The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – 3/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

The Secret Life of Walter MittyThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty – 3/5 – Imagination and creative sense; those are words that come to mind when describing this film.  A film made from the essences of creativity, it is one that plays us with heartfelt moments, but struggles to find a confine on how to make those moments pure.  In the end, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a movie with some glaring flaws, but one that will be marked as enjoyable.

Premise: Mitty is a man who lives through day-dreams.  Even so, he always wishes to be able to express his true desires to everyone, including a certain someone.  All of that changes when a dire situation happens at work. Caught between circumstance and dreams, Mitty embarks on a journey that will not only solve the case, but provide reasons for living again.

In the lead role of Walter Mitty you have Ben Stiller.  As this character, he gives a more down to earth kind of person, one that is different than most his comedic roles.  Even in a different role, he shows us true talent that is inspiring and grounded.  As Mitty, he creates a person who gets lost in his own mind, thinking of grandeur things.  That conflict draws us into a deeper connection with who is Walter Mitty, creating someone that is flawed but believable.  He has a very ‘innocent’ soul, and tries his best to reach out to others when he obviously can’t.  In this movie, certain things happen which forces him to break out of that ‘comfort zone’ and actually live.  In those situations, you watch as his he grows and becomes something of an inspiration; something he couldn’t believe he could become.  His interactions within his travels are very heartwarming, and his conversations are whimsical.  He combines the imaginary with realism, creating a character that is endearing and genuine.  His character stands as a positive point in the film.  When it comes to the supporting cast, they aren’t very intriguing as Mitty, but they help provide enough backbone to the journey.  Some notable names in the supporting cast are:

Kristen Wiig as Cheryl Melhoff

Adam Scott as Ted Hendricks

Sean Penn as Sean O’Connell

These three play ‘pivotal’ characters in Mitty’s life, as they have purpose but no depth character-wise. They provided those typical archetypes for ‘feel good’ movies, as all three represent either the love interest (Kristen Wiig) the antagonist (Adam Scott) or this wise man (Sean Penn) for the story.

The direction of the film is a mixture of ‘art house’ style with a journey theme.   Within the ‘art house’ style, a lot of things are played out beyond realism; a capturing of the essence that brings the imaginary to ‘real-life’ storytelling.  In this film, you see this style play out for a good 2/3rds of its running time.  This imaginary aspect that is used in the direction focuses on the ‘zoning out’ situations of Walter Mitty’s day dreaming.  In the beginning, we get introduced to him and his lackluster life.  Because of his generic lifestyle, he never really expresses his true feelings.  All of that bottling up causes a ‘zoning out’ effect, as we get to see what he dreams about.  The dream affect plays to a definition; as the combine usage of ‘day dreaming’ with ‘real life’ exudes a mark that defines what Mitty wants; a purpose to live.  As the film moves past this introduction, we are thrust into generic plot driven elements that add the ‘journey’ theme to the ‘art house’ elements.  This theme brings us that unsung hero figure (Walter Mitty) who must overcome exterior circumstances and prove his worth.  Those circumstance stems from Walter’s job; He is task to provide the 25th slide for the LIFE magazine’s last cover, and it is nowhere to be found.   Within that conflicted situation, the juggling of the journey and the art house styles begin to conflict.  This disarray in the progression of the film also draws another issue; pacing.  Once the film gets to the point where Walter Mitty must track down Sean O’Connell and find the picture, the pacing just goes from one extreme to another, flipping between with no cohesion.  You’ll get scenarios of epic scale that will lead into small exposition of dialogue, and vice versa.  A good example to point out is when Mitty travels to Greenland.  You have a scene that is poignant and plays to the heart of Mitty’s life, and then it switches to a death defying situation that completely omits the purpose of the previous scene.  This happens a lot throughout the second half, causing the singular focus to get caught up in both the imaginary and realistic aspects.  Even so, because of the grounded aspect of Walter Mitty (by the acting job of Ben Stiller) you stay focused on him, causing you to feel certain everlasting moments.  Once the film get’s into the third act, everything connects with convenient plot devices, as the film falls into the general ‘defining the moment’ scenario.  Once the film wraps up, you feel as if the journey was fragmented, but you enjoyed the process of living through the imaginary, as well as the ‘feel good’ moments that happen throughout.

The visuals of this film are beyond outstanding.  Everything is built upon genuine feel, no matter if it’s the deep imagination of Walter Mitty or the areas he travels on his journey to find Sean O’Connell (Greenland, Iceland, Himalayas).  In every scene (good or bad) you get a sense of authenticity, feeling the scope of the situation.  The usage of wide area lenses as well as focal points on certain features in the landscapes make you feel as if you’re there.  Another great aspect of the film is the score.  The music is infused within the filming; making you feel each scene and interaction that goes on between Walter and the journey he goes on.

Overall, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film that has a lot of missteps in direction, but is a story that provides worth to life and purpose.  Ben Stiller is great as the main character, and the visuals and score are great positives.  If you are a fan of those creative films or Ben Stiller, this is one for you.  You will not be disappointed.

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