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December 4, 2013
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: Review
— Posted by Andrea Lestrange
Walter ‘Daydream to the Extreme’ Mitty’s life is grey. He dresses in grey, his apartment is grey, his belongings are grey, his briefcase is silvery-grey, and his existence is grey. The only colourful aspect of his being and surroundings is his mind; his unusually over-active mind. I know as humans we are all guilty of daydreaming, sometimes about past situations we wished we handled with more style, future situations we hope to deal with in a fly way, and the things we fantasize about doing in reality, but feel more achievable and safer in our imagination. Well, Mitty takes these thoughts to the next level, like kung fu, superhero, Casanova, smooth-talker, explorer extraordinaire all rolled into one, level. I’m not going to lie; his head looks like a pretty fun place to be (for an outsider.)
Ben Stiller has directed a gem. I wasn’t expecting The Secret Life of Walter Mitty to be as entertaining and enjoyable as it was. It was a fantastic adventure smoothly dipping in and out of fantasy and reality – a gap at the start bigger than Madonna’s teeth, that shrunk as the film progressed, proving that the space between what we deem impossible and the possible isn’t that big when you put your mind to it. (Excuse the pun). The film was impressively shot, with an extremely precise and artistic approach – Stiller is definitely one to pay attention to detail! From his filming of breathtaking scenery in Greenland, Iceland, and the Himalayas to pretty epic action-fantastic daydreams, and sensitive and humorous relationships. Stiller ticked all the boxes with his diverse but concise skill. I’ll be shocked if Stiller’s awesome imaginary fight scene in the streets of New York with asshole MD of the company played by Adam Scott isn’t a contender for Best Fight at the MTV Movie Awards next year. It owns his 1999 win with Puffy The Dog!
It was great to see Stiller in a role where he didn’t play an uptight highly-strung control freak. He wasn’t flapping around and freaking out as we so often see him. He played Mitty in a controlled and endearing way, his gentle demeanor made the character instantly likeable and relatable. The cast in general gave great performances – a brilliant variety of characters that gelled so well; Adam Scott as the classic briefcase-wanker, (douche at work) man about town wannabe, Kathryn HAHAHahn as the airy fairy Jessie Spano look-a-like, Kristen Wiig as the warm, subtly-funny girl-next-door, and Sean Penn.
The soundtrack to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was carefully and beautifully crafted, each and every song has been perfectly picked to specific grand and over-whelming (in a good way) moments that evoked desire to travel, to explore, to stop thinking and start living…just like Mitty, as he starts to battle against the irony of such a lifeless soul who works for Life magazine.
Now I haven’t seen the 1947 film so I can’t compare, but I feel confident saying I strongly believe that Stiller’s version probably holds more zest, with colours and spectacular scenery bursting onto the screen, brilliant visual effects. A great touch to the film was Mitty’s relationship with Todd, the eHarmony customer services guy that essentially follows Mitty’s journey from thinking to doing. Todd calls him up now and again for a chat and to help him build up his dating profile, and keeps catching him on his extraordinary adventures. Each time he receives a call, Mitty has done something new and great with his life. The calls, in my opinion, are symbolic for how society today gives us so much choice, yet so little time – or so it seems, making it seemingly easier to live life through others instead of making things happen for yourself. For anyone who already gets the most out of life, those who want to get the most out of life but need a little nudge, and those who just dream about the possibilities, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a must see for all as an all-round inspiration and appreciation for life.
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I love to write about film. Mixing traditional critique with essay-style analysis, I enjoy exploring and discussing different themes and elements, all with a light-hearted edge to keep things fun. I am based in London, currently working as a runner for a film distribution company, and looking to pursue a career in the film industry.
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