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14.11.2013
Quotes from Inspirably: The secret of life, though, is to fall seven times and to get up eight times.
There are a million reasons (about $100 million budgetary ones, to be exact) that I should hate Ben Stiller’s new adaptation of James Thurber’s The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, written by Steve Conrad and directed by and starring Stiller.
For this latest update (following the 1947 Danny Kaye version), Walter Mitty (Stiller) is now a modern-day photographic archivist, a physical negative handler for LIFE Magazine at a time when both the magazine and its photography are going all-digital. Of course Mitty still spends half his time lost in elaborate daydreams fueled by Hollywood hero fantasies, but Walter’s own flat, grey, carefully calibrated life is upended on multiple fronts when he simultaneously develops a crush on a winsome co-worker (Kristin Wiig) and learns (from a hilariously hirsute Adam Scott as his new digital-asshole boss) that the magazine (and most likely his anachronistic job) are morphing away into the Internet ether. That one-two punch spurs Walter to impulsively set off across Greenland, Iceland, and Afghanistan by helicopter (drunkenly piloted), ship (complete with shark-infested waters), car (outrunning an erupting volcano), and skateboard in search of a mysterious missing photo from a ruggedly elusive star photographer (Sean Penn, nicely both embracing and mocking his own self-serious image). The Secret Life of Walter Mitty gives us a rich, successful Hollywood star (who’s made millions by letting small children, animals, and Robert DeNiro punch him in the nuts) working through his mid-life career ennui; whining—through Thurber’s 75-year-old proxy—that his life doesn’t feel fulfilled. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty not only wallows in blatant placement for airport-lounge consumerist products that are either disgustingly bad for you or run with semi-disgusting corporate creedos (eHarmony, Cinnabon, Papa John’s Pizza), but deftly integrates the products seamlessly into its narrative in an impressive display of crass cross-promotional skill. In other words, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is exactly the sort of movie I’ve become increasingly allergic to in recent years. At heart, I accept that my reason for not loathing Mitty (say, in the way I loathe Saving Mr. But I can also make a (only slightly) less flimsy case for it having to do with Stiller himself, who I’ve always found fascinating and felt something of a vague connection to.
And so, about the time Ben Stiller—multi-millionaire comic star of the Fockers and Night at the Museum franchises—feels the need to soothe his mid-life emptiness with mushy epic paeans to a more soul-rich existence—and does so with pretty landscape pictures set to The Arcade Fire and David Bowie—well, I’m right there with him. But what I find more fascinating is the notion that there’s really just one Ben Stiller: A prince of Hollywood, child of TV-comics Jerry Stiller and Anne Meara, who’s grown up so deeply entrenched in show-business that its pop culture trappings are his only frame of reference—even when he tries to express an existential longing, his reality is still about the making of fantasy. Stiller’s show-biz upbringing and career have blended into his generation’s TV-fed, Internet-nurtured, pop-culture psyche and emotional dreamland (a shared experience mapped out across ‘70s TV shows, ‘80s New Wave pop music, and ‘90s material achievement). But where Stiller the filmmaker satirized the self-mocking foolishness of show business in Zoolander and Tropic of Thunder, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is his mid-life grasp at something post-cynicism.
Mitty is a personal passion project for Stiller; an Industry-bred pragmatist reaching for the clouds of aspirational hopes and dreams, trying to wrassle—complete with WWE levels of artificiality—with the reality of being 40-something, of tallying up the emotional costs and dividends of personal and professional “successes” against those youthful ambitions.
The irony is that even when Stiller goes for authenticity and genuine emotion, he still expresses it in broad strokes—he’s still a child of cinema and entertainment and can’t shake his Hollywood instincts. Mitty is no mopey, mumble-core slog through middle-age angst and self-doubt—even when the film sets aside Mitty’s movie-fueled daydreams for “real life” adventures, the vistas (including the rocky green-grays of Greenland, Iceland, faux Afghanistan, and even the canyons of New York City) are still, as shot by cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh, draped in the gorgeous palate of a National Geographic pictorial. If Mitty is lost in his daydreams, then the film itself offers up an aspirational dream version of a mid-life crisis and emotional rebirth; make no mistake, Walter’s journey of self-fulfillment is much prettier, more moving, and more exciting than yours. Bright, crisp, clean, and grand in its uplift, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty holds itself—even it’s “real” scenes—up as a Hollywood fantasy, a tactic all the more apparent thanks to Stiller’s trademark self-aware cinema and purposeful artifice, played out in this case as epic visual grandeur as well as a smattering of clever-clever winks and gimmicks.
Stiller ladles all this on with a shamelessly joyous sappiness that I found myself almost respecting, coming as it does with seeming personal sincerity from someone I consider a cynical kindred spirit in general self-loathing, ennui, and misanthropy—a Scrooge who wants to embrace the light. Either that, or I’m really over-projecting on Stiller and was simply snowed (‘tis the season, you know) by pretty landscape pictures set to The Arcade Fire and David Bowie. In-depth Funny Passionate All these adjectives apply to your reviews and I throughly enjoy reading them!


A teen drama on ABC Family mainly focusing on six teens in high school, one of whom is pregnant. Along the way, we learn how Walter’s loss of his father at a young age deferred his plans, goals, and dreams for a not-so-wonderful dull life of George-Bailey-esque responsibility (sans the loving family and friends). Banks) may be as simple and indefensible as the fact that I’m a sucker for really pretty landscape pictures set to songs from The Arcade Fire and David Bowie. Stiller’s life, upbringing, and career couldn’t be further from my own, but on some deeper (shallower?) level we are of the same age and share the same pop-cultural touchstones and influences (see: The Arcade Fire and David Bowie, above).
Stiller’s cinema is faux-visionary in a solid, predictable way—despite his over-excitable on-screen persona, behind the camera, his steady professionalism is his most heartfelt expression of self—like his parents, with their variety-show backgrounds, Stiller knows that presenting comic-tragic chaos on stage means years of tireless hard work back stage. The large-scale, bombastically fanciful narrative detours and the film itself makes the case for daydreams not as empty escapism but as an ideal, as blueprints, as motivation for a richer life. The the Fockers and Night at the Museum franchises were some of his most humorous movies so I am sure that a more subdued role will be an interesting addition to his acting history. In one scene in season two , he tells Adrian that Ricky's unfaithfulness is a result of her inability to get along with John's mother, Amy.
There was even a point early on when he had just recently knocked up Amy, was having sex with Adrian, on the verge of dating Grace, and made out with Lauren who was fighting with Madison over him.
Berserk Button: Amy apparently hits one of Ben's in "Loose Lips", when she basically reminds Ben that Adrian used him as revenge against Ricky and implies that Adrian still wanted Ricky, meaning that Adrian didn't love him. Adrian hits an even bigger button with Ben in "Hole In The Wall" when she clears out their stillborn daughter's nursery, including a small, stuffed bear Ben's deceased mother, Sarah, gave to him as a small child.
Betty and Veronica: Season 1 strangely had both Ricky and Jack between Grace (Betty) and Adrian (Veronica). Big Damn Kiss: For shippers of the couple, Ricky and Amy's kiss onstage at the former's high school graduation.
It wasn't their first kiss, but it was a big deal since they got engaged seconds before the kiss. Black Comedy Rape: Surveillance footage of the attempted rape of Grace and her attempts at self-defense is treated as a hilarious blooper reel by the local news and populace. Brain Bleach: George's expression when Anne tells him that Amy and Ashley were discussing masturbation is a comical plea for some of this trope. ALL of "Just Say Me", especially the montage of all the girls with HUGE smiles on their faces, since they've just finished masturbating. By season 4, he had a failed marriage, a stillborn daughter, and had experimented with liquor — all before his 18th birthday.
Losing his mother years prior to the Pilot also seemed to have done this to him in some ways as well. But Not Too Gay: Griffin and Peter have had exactly one appearance since they hooked up, even though Griffin is supposed to be Ashley's best friend. Though the plane crash is (hopefully) not the direct result of Grace having sex, her Downs Syndrome-afflicted brother shouts at her, "You killed him!" She believes it on account of her own idiocy, though.
Terrifyingly, this seems to be just the beginning as it appears that the concept of sex = death is catching.


The girl who knows the most about sex does it first with her best friend since second grade; shortly afterward, he goes away for cancer treatment and it's implied that he died. This affects her to the point where it wrecks all of her social relationships for several episodes. Ricky and Adrian have sex all the time and nothing bad happens except when Ricky takes Amy's virginity and gets her pregnant and when Adrian has sex with then-virgin Ben, she gets pregnant and loses the baby. Chewing the Scenery: Every once in a while, kind of surprising considering how dull the show usually is.
Dull Surprise: Apparently, being in this show removes your ability to express genuine emotions. However you feel about Adiran, the fact is she at least tried to make her life work when she was pregnant. Amy, however, did nothing but bitch and moan during her pregnancy, and yet has the happiest ending on the show.
Everybody Has Lots of Sex: It's more Everybody Talks A Lot About Sex, but there's plenty of actual sex going on as well(though to date, there hasn't been any sex onscreen). The original title of the show was The Sex Life Of The American Teenager, but Brenda Hampton said Googling that name brought up a lot of porn sites, so it was nixed. Her mom felt horrible about it afterwards, saying "Everyone forgot my sixteenth birthday and it stayed with me forever!" Amy is mildly irritated, but gets over it pretty quickly. A few headscratchers in particular are Adrian and her mom having an upscale apartment in season one , even though they were supposed to be kinda poor. Daniel and his friends also manage to have lavish apartments, despite being college students.
With the latter, it's been implied that the apartments are owned by the college, which could mean a lower, affordable rate. He's gotten several mentions and has driven several of the characters around (off-screen, of course), but he's never put in an appearance.
Give the Baby a Father: Ben, convinced that he is in love, proposes to Amy shortly after finding out she's pregnant with Ricky's baby. Since they're 15 and have only been dating a few weeks at that point, their parents don't approve. Amy's first time is awkward and brief, while Grace's first time is apparently the most amazing thing ever. Informed Ability: Amy informs the football coach that the football team is merely a warm-up act for the amazing marching band.



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