Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! I like to imagine there is a real life Walter Mitty and his secret life is another family and a crippling gambling habit.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty – 4 out of 5

I day dream a lot. When I’m not busy sailing the seven seas tracking down pirate booty (that sounds weird) and fighting legions of zombie pirate skeletons or I’m fighting space dragons on the far away planet of Hippsterr 13 (you probably never heard of the planet, it’s very indie), I often find myself, when I have down time, thinking about grilling hotdogs or cleaning the shower (I never said my day dreams were exciting) and it is this habit of taking a little mental vacation when the reality around me gets too mundane and routine that made me interested in seeing this film…and Ben Stiller is in it, too, so that helps.

Mitty does a slight variation of Blue Steel.

Play this for full effect...
Based on the short story and is a remake of the 1947 film of the same name, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty tells the tale of, you guessed it, Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller). Walt works for “Life” magazine and, when he’s not day dreaming of being a badass, he’s silently pining for a girl in his office named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig). One morning he comes into work to find out that the magazine will be printing off their final issue and they want a photo for the cover that really shines. The magazine turns to acclaimed photographer Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) and he has the perfect pic for them…unfortunately, Walter lost it and must locate it right quick! Despite being harassed by the corporate transition expert (Adam Scott with a strange looking beard) and filled with ambition to turn his boring life into something that will actually mean something, Walter sets off to make his day dream adventures a reality.

Seriously, that's a crime against beards.  What happened?

I’ve heard a lot of mixed reviews for this film. I honestly don’t give a shit what the mainstream critics say because they are not real people and don’t really enjoy the films that actual movie-goers watch—that’s why I actually give a shit what people I know think about things and, shockingly, all my buddies were saying it’s a great movie. None of them oversold the film where I was sitting down with epic expectations but they definitely had me interested…and I have to agree with them. This movie is definitely something special.

"You there!  Gaze upon my awful beard!"

The movie is pretty simple and quite grand at the same time. The story is a basic study of a human’s adventurous spirit and seeing Walter go on his journey is definitely inspiring and makes you want to get up and go bear wrestling (or go on a trip, however you define adventure). That really is the defining aspect of the film. Above everything else, this movie is one man’s journey of self-discovery and it is surprisingly beautiful and quite humorous.

Driving away from a dust cloud from an eruption...it's time like these you need either
Tommy Lee Jones or Pierce Brosnan on speed-dial.

Other than directing a film filled with wonderful locales and flights of whimsy, Ben Stiller is great as Walter Mitty and is able to capture the man who feels trapped by society but, at the same time, yearns to get out there and have some history and stories to tell in his life. Stiller makes Walt an easily identifiable character and seeing how he was at the beginning of the film (a stuffy worker bee in a plain white shirt and tie) to what he is at the end (a tan, world traveler with a little less stuff in his shirt) looks natural and Stiller made it flow quite well. He was also able to bring excellent chemistry with the rest of the cast (who were all great themselves). You felt the crush he had on Kristen Wiig’s character, you feel the animosity between him and Adam Scott’s character, you feel a budding friendship growing between him and Patton Oswalt’s character of Todd; the e-Harmony tech helping him with his online profile and, even though Sean Penn has a very short appearance in the film, the two come off like their characters have been working together for years. If there’s a second defining aspect of the film, it’s Ben Stiller’s work both in front of and behind the camera…if there’s a third, it’s the entire cast and how well they worked together.

Sean Penn's character looks like the type of dude who just randomly spouts off
inspirational and thought-provoking shit and disappears into the wind before you
get a chance to thank him.

One thing I think was undersold about this film when my friends talked about it was how amusing it was. Granted, the film is never really laugh-out-loud hilarious but the film has several really tight gags that are more than solid and work better than some entire comedies. For example, one of the funniest things about the film, in my opinion, was the relationship and interaction between Walter and Todd the eHarmony guy. One of the biggest reasons that Walter goes on his adventure was to pad out his “Personal History” page and it comes with help from Todd. The two mostly speak over the phone and just the idea of having a tech write down your adventures as you are having them for an online dating profile was just hilarious to me. Additionally, a few of the jokes even take some time to really get to the punchline—and by “some time” I mean you don’t get the punchline until the end of the film happens and that formula makes the jokes that much sweeter. If there is a fourth defining aspect of the film, it was the harmless but funny nature of the humor this film was filled with.

Just two cool dudes in one scene.

While the critics have been lukewarm to The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I found the film to be as adventurous and uplifting as the story and moral. The fact this film could simultaneous look ambitious with seamless fantasy sequences and actual adventures for Mitty and still, at its core, be just about a guy trying to bring more to his life and reach out to the people around him was what captured me and the additional humor that came with it was just the icing on the cake.

"What do you think, audience?"

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