First off, happy holidays everyone! I hope you have all enjoyed the festive season! I certainly have, being back home has given me a chance to see some old friends and spend some time with my family, so hopefully you’ve had chance to do the same!
But don’t worry, I have of course still found the time to visit the local cinema! Also with being back home has allowed me to go to my own stomping ground in Castleford, and better yet with my best mate who I haven’t seen in over half a year! What was a shock was that the cinema had changed drastically, a new carpet and a lick of paint – all of which was pointed out to me by my good friend Mark … as I had not even noticed. Although, he wasn’t happy, as he explained in his classic deadpan tone … “They closed the cinema for a whole day to do this … I really don’t like it!” … not even a hint of a joke in his voice – he really disliked it. So, just like the good old days, on a cold wet day in the North of England, jumping in my car and rolling down to the cinema (on at least a weekly basis), we embarked to see The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Which I will now get onto! I am far too young to be getting all nostalgic, and frankly (if you are even still reading!), you did not come here to read this waffle, you’re here for the good stuff!
For those of you who don’t know who Walter Mitty is, he is a character created by James Thurber, back in 1939 for the short story, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. A drab man (Mitty, not Thurber!), who had vivid imaginations and daydreams of exciting events occurring to and around him. Sounds like there could be some legs in this and could be turned into a terrific screenplay?
Ben Stiller steps up to take the starring role, and also grabs himself a seat in the directors chair. With plenty of past experience in both aspects of movie making, Stiller certainly doesn’t disappoint with one. Placed in modern day, Walter works for Life magazine, in the negative assets departments (photography stuff), working closely with famous photographer Sean O’Connell’s (Sean Penn) work, and pining over new girl Cheryl (Kristen Wiig).
What is fantastic about this film, is that it is so relatable to just about everyone. I think you would be hard pushed to find someone out there who has never “zoned out” and put themselves in some sort of exciting adventure fantasy where they save the day, or say something quick witted to a bully and become hero to everyone around you. Everyone does it … some more than others (especially me, hence my interest in this film to begin with!), but we all do it!
The character is instantly likeable – even the first scene is incredibly real, Walter trying to pluck up the courage to hit the send button to his fancy women, again, most of us will have also been there … I know I have! Walter is also an underdog, and lord knows, do we love an underdog! Stiller plays this role like a champ, he needs to seamlessly flick between shy, self conscious Walter, to action hero, ultra confident, fantasy Walter. Which proves to be no problem, as Stiller has forged his very successful career playing both types of personality!
The cast around him are also very good, although the main focus, and screen time is on Mr Director. Kristen Wiig is absolutely delightful – light, charming, and breezy on the screen – it is no wonder Walter has taken a shine to her. This is also a huge step on from her performance in Anchorman 2, which was slightly disappointing! Adam Scott steps in nicely to his bad guy shoes once again and shows us he can be an intolerable asshole when he wants to be. Adam Scott has to be one of the best character actors around at the moment, and I think greatly underappreciated(!), he is fantastic at both villainous characters and then just as believable as the loveable guy. Shout out also to Patton Oswalt, who was used very well in this film, mostly on the phone, to move the story along and add some light entertainment – and even grabbed a few minutes of actual on-screen time towards the end!
The film is visually pleasing, with some beautiful scenes every time we drift into Walter’s imagination. From Himalayan Mountains, to Greenland and Iceland, to even the classic American city. The movie is also very funny – not in the belly laugh sense, but it is very understated but pretty constant throughout – I was chuckling a lot anyway! However, two scenes particularly stand out, one including Super Stretch Armstrong, and one with a throwback to Benjamin Button – both which had me crying laughing!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty carries with it a nice message and is ultimately very satisfying throughout – it isn’t the deepest film you will ever see, but it is worth taking note of the themes and messaging it presents – breaking out of your shell, confidence, human decency, and even the purpose of life …
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls, draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”
This really is a film that will make you feel good and give you a warm feeling as you leave the cinema. I had high hopes for this movie based on what I knew about the character and the trailers, and I was not disappointed. I highly recommend you go and see the film, and drift into Walter Mitty’s secret life!
Best wishes for 2014,