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02.03.2015
Existing somewhere between the saccharine and the sublime, director-star Ben Stiller's retelling of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an earnest, but not entirely effective fable about escaping the doldrums of daily life and seizing change.
There are moments of emotional release provided by some of Walter's real adventures, whether it's the "Space Oddity" moment as he rushes for a helicopter ride or skateboarding through a beautiful countryside.
Ben Stiller directs and stars in the heartfelt, but superficial fantasy-dramedy The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which wants to say big things about life but never fully delivers on all its promise. Stiller's earnest retelling of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a sumptuous looking, intermittently effective fable. Ben Stiller directs and stars in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, the story of a lowly photo editor with big dreams — specifically, daydreams.
Imagine for a second working at Life magazine, where the greatest events in history are recorded in the most vivid detail, and you are the guy that meticulously handles every image as they come in from the field. When Walter can’t find film negative 25 from Sean O’Connell, the one that is to be the quintessence of all his photos and the final one for Life Magazine, he is encouraged to go on an adventure and find it by his love interest, Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig). Walter and Sean O’Connell have never met in person, yet they share a close friendship, working together for 16 years. On a side note, the scene with Walter in Greenland and the drunk helicopter pilot is so good! Probably one of the most memorable scenes in the movie is when Walter finally catches up with Sean O’Connell.
When Walter asks O’Connell about negative 25 and finds out he had it but may have accidentally thrown it away, O’Connell doesn’t blow up at him like you would expect.
I know some of the great quotes in the movie come directly from James Thurber’s original short story.
We've got an exclusive, dreamy new clip from Ben Stiller's upcoming drama The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty. Get the best gaming deals, reviews, product advice, competitions, unmissable gaming news and more! GamesRadar+ is part of Future plc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Very loosely based on the 1939 short story by James Thurber (which was previously produced for the screen in 1947 starring Danny Kaye), Stiller's adaptation depicts the title character as a nice, but forgettable man leading a humdrum, routine life.
The quiet moments between Stiller and Wiig are nice and sweet, but her character's basically an idea and not a person, with no real discernible personality outside of what Wiig brings to it.
The movie costars Sean Penn, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, and some truly breathtaking scenery. He works in the basement of Life Magazine’s corporate office, processing film negatives in what appears to be a massive, windowless, and well-organized darkroom. Like many men, he seems to be struggling with the inner desire to be something or do something significant with his life and fantasizes about himself as a hero or lover.


When he comes back to the office he sees Sean’s picture and imagines Sean slowly summoning him to come into the adventurous world.
I like to think that to Walter, O’Connell is something of a father figure rather than just a legend of a man living the life that Walter wished he lived. Olafur Darri Olafsson (yeah I don’t know how to pronounce his name either) plays the pilot and does such an excellent job. He’s parked out on a ridge in the Himalayas waiting for the sight of the elusive snow leopard, known locally as the “Ghost Cat”. When Walter asks what it was I think O’Connell has already decided to keep it as one of those “in the moment” pictures. You can unsubscribe at any time and we'll never share your details without your permission.
Walter's elaborate daydreams involve fantasies of himself as an action hero or a romantic explorer. Penn's character is the epitome of machismo and self-reliance, and the Oscar-winning actor seems ideally cast for it. If we didn’t have the ability to experience his fantasy filled “zoning out” spells along with him, he would seem to be a pretty dull guy. However, he doesn’t just have those thoughts while mowing the grass or on a quiet weekend when he is alone, he has them all the time, mentally and physically checking out in the middle of conversation.
However, for himself, he left behind the dreams of that skateboarding kid, and worse, felt a wound from his father’s death that he didn’t know how to deal with.
I believe we can begin to see how Walter’s imagination could get away from him, but more importantly, I think it is something many men can relate to, though to a lesser degree. Walter Mitty is a guy that lost himself when he lost his dad and his adventures are a way for him to find himself and deal with the death of his father.
But in reality he's a meek man with a life so dull that a relentlessly helpful eHarmony call center rep (voiced by Patton Oswalt) tries to help him beef up his online profile so he can get some views. It's a small role -- O'Connell is almost as much the film's MacGuffin as the photo negative Walter seeks -- and one saved until the film's homestretch, but Penn's worth the wait. There is a part of him that is still trying to live out the life that his dad would have wanted. Walter really just hopes to catch the attention of Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), a co-worker who is also on eHarmony.
The supporting cast includes Shirley MacLaine as Walter's mom and Kathryn Hahn as his aspiring actress sister. While helping his mom move into a new place his sister finds an unused backpack of his with an equally unused travel journal. Instead of living that life like Sean O’Connell (the adventurous photographer played by Sean Penn), he lives it in his imagination.


Then another thing happens, which is just such good writing: O’Connell doesn’t take the picture.
Walter's antiquated profession involves handling and cataloguing photo negatives for LIFE magazine.
Adam Scott's known for his obnoxious characters, but few have been as odious and grating as the soulless exec he plays here. Not only is the movie fun to watch, the story is chocked full of subtle but deep sub-stories that leave you thinking about its meaning, both for yourself and the characters, long after you’ve watched it. He says that when the moment is just right he wants to stay in it without the distraction of the camera. The digital age has finally caught up with the venerable publication (13 years into the 21st century, mind you), whose new owners (led by a bearded Adam Scott and his likewise bearded minions) are scuttling the print edition and moving the entire operation online. This film may also have the oddest product placement of any film this year, from Papa John's Pizza to eHarmony to LIFE itself and even the old Stretch Armstrong doll. In an age where everything is shared in an instant, those personal moments can become fewer and fewer. Walter is tasked with providing his new bosses with the photo that will grace LIFE's final print edition, a shot taken by legendary photojournalist Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn in an extended cameo) who still shoots on film.
We get the impression that his dad was pretty awesome; taking him to skateboarding competitions and giving him a mohawk. But here's the problem: the negative of the photo in question is missing and the meek Walter, fearful for his job, decides he'll have to track down O'Connell in Greenland to get the photo or at least some answers (since O'Connell doesn't have a cell phone and is usually on the road). The ensuing journey will see Walter start to live out some of the very adventures he's so far only fantasized about. One of the film's problems is that the protagonist's secret life has no real bearing on what he truly wants to gain, which is the heart of Cheryl. She's not privy to any of his actual derring-do overseas, seeing only the changed man -- more confident and presentable-looking -- that he is when he returns. Yes, his adventures give him confidence, but so would a gym membership and a tan from a day at the beach. They're basically little vignettes in the first act, but then it's all about Walter hiking (or skateboarding) through Greenland, Iceland, and later the Himalayas. It's basically about a guy who wants to ask out the woman in the cubicle across the office and whose main task is finding a photo negative so that -- gasp! It's all much ado about nothing in the grand scheme of things, although one could argue that by making the stakes just as mundane as Walter's daily life the film's somehow trying to be more relatable to everyday filmgoers.



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