News

REVIEW: ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ worth exploring

REVIEW: ‘Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ worth exploring

A SECRET LIFE: Ben Stiller, star of "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty." Photo: WENN

Genre: Comedy | Run Time: 114 min | Rated: PG
Director: Ben Stiller | Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn

By George Wolf

The closing credits of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty inspired some immediate soul searching. Why didn’t I hate this movie?

With generalized themes of empowerment strategically layered with soaring music, it has all the trappings of a shallow, follow-your-dreams retirement fund commercial that airs during the Super Bowl.

And yet, director Ben Stiller supplies enough visual style and unabashed earnestness to make his new adaptation of James Thurber’s classic story a surprising success.

Stiller also takes the lead role as the legendary daydreamer. This Walter Mitty works in the photo department of Life magazine and secretly pines for co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) For years, Walter has handled the submissions from prized photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn), but as layoffs mount and the last issue of Life draws near, the image that O’Connell has earmarked for the final cover goes missing.

Leaving his mundane schedule behind, Walter embarks on an around-the-world search for the elusive photographer and the lost photo. Through the terrain of Afghanistan to the wilds of Iceland and beyond, Walter follows O’Connell’s trail, racking up incredible life experiences with each new day.

Setting a film about seizing the fullness of life inside the waning days of Life magazine sounds obvious and cheesy, right? Right, and left to its own devices, Steve Conrad’s script would keep the film comfortably in that neighborhood.

Credit Stiller for the vision to see the bigger picture. On the surface, it might seem more natural for Stiller, who brought a wonderful edge to Zoolander and Tropic Thunder, to return to the satirical tone of Thurber’s original story. Instead, he fully embraces the larger than life quality of this treatment, filling the screen with glorious on-location sequences and truly sublime visuals.

Stiller the actor follows suit with a restrained lead performance. The antics of Danny Kaye’s 1947 film version are long gone, as Stiller’s Walter is a true introvert learning to embrace change.

Wiig also dials it down, replacing her trademark quirkiness with a quiet sweetness while Penn, in what amounts to little more than a cameo, has some subtle fun with his rogue persona.

Yes, Walter Mitty stages a calculated assault on your feel good bone, but with tactics this good-natured and timely, it doesn’t hurt a bit.

Description: Verdict-3-5-Stars

Recent Headlines

in Music

Soundgarden fan sends death threats to Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell of Soundgarden performs at Rock on the Range on Sunday, May 19, 2013 in Columbus, Ohio.

An obsessed fan of Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell has been arrested and charged with sending death threats to the rocker and his family.

in Music

Arcade Fire confused by fans’ love for free downloads

Win Butler and Reed Parry of Arcade Fire perform at the 2014 Big Day Out Festival.

Arcade Fire are baffled by the avalanche of online file-sharing because fans will regularly buy expensive coffee but expect to get records for free.

in Music

Lars Ulrich fuels AC/DC Glastonbury rumor

Lars Ulrich of Metallica poses for portraits at the 66th international film festival, in Cannes, southern France, Thursday, May 16, 2013. Ulrich is promoting the film Metallica Through The Never, directed by Nimrod Antal.

Metallica star Lars Ulrich has fueled rumors rock veterans AC/DC will headline Britain's iconic Glastonbury festival next year.

in Music

Evanescence’s Amy Lee gives birth to baby boy

Amy Lee of American rock band Evanescence performs during the Rock in Rio music festival in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, (Foto vom 02.10.11). "Jedes Mal, wenn wir ein Album machen, ist es ein grosser Meilenstein in meinem Leben", sagt die 29-jaehrige Frontfrau Amy Lee von Evanescence im dapd-Interview. "The Open Door" 2006 sei eine Art Abschied gewesen, "Evanescence" markiert nun einen Neuanfang. Die US-Rockband legt am kommenden Freitag (07.10.11) ihr drittes, selbstbetiteltes Album vor. (zu dapd-Text) Foto: Felipe Dana/AP/dapd

Amy Lee introduces her first child to the world with her Instagram account.

in Weird

Social media asks: ‘Who is the women in black?’

Woman In Black

A quiet woman wearing a flowing, black dress has the curious wondering who she is and spurred a social media site to document her trek.