The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a fantastical story that shows the world around us as a place of wonder and spectacle. It stars and is directed by, the ever likable, Ben Stiller and is based on a character written by James Thurber. It’s pretty fantastic in countless ways: the jokes are well timed and genuinely funny; the performances are chock full of wholesome Stiller charm, matched only by Wiig’s lovable wit, and MacLaine’s effortless bravado. A lively performance from Sean Penn and notable appearances by Kathryn Hahn and Adam Scott are just the cherry on top of an outstanding cast. The dialogue is well written, the scenes are well thought out, and the visuals, oh the visuals. So why is it that I just can’t give it the A+ seal of approval that I want it to deserve?!
This is a film built on beauty. The shots of New York City’s streets, Iceland’s natural landscapes and Mitty’s fantastical daydreams blend together seamlessly to show a world of aesthetic grandeur. If the film is shown in IMAX, which I truly hope it is, I for one will shell out the extra few dollars to see it again, just for those damn visuals. And the music to go with this epic scenery? Well, of course the soundtrack is indie perfection. Each song has been individually selected to blend into these sublime shots to make you feel like you’re about to hop on a plane to Yemen just for the hell of it. Everything is taken into account; the music, the words, the color, the angles, the people and the performances. All of it is cast into a formula for perfection, and perhaps, that is its downfall.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is supposed to be a film of humanity and sincerity, neither of which tend to go hand in hand with the flawless detail of a Hollywood formula. Yes, Stiller is charming and sweet. Yes, the soundtrack is inspiring, Yes, the movie makes the world seem a more beautiful place. It was a nice 114 minutes, but once the credits came to a close so did my thoughts on the whole experience. It just failed to play on my mind like so many other films do. The movie is about grabbing hold of life and giving it your all, a life affirming genre I am very fond of, but it lacks that awful, chaotic, ‘life’s a mess but you have to love it anyway’, kind of imperfection. It seems too cinematic for a film that’s supposed to touch audiences’ hearts so intimately. An epic action adventure and an emotionally uplifting journey of self discovery are two separate tales that Stiller just can’t seem to blend into one.
Honestly, I urge you to see the movie for yourself. It is lovely and funny and charming, but I warn you that, like me, you may feel a slight sense of disappointment from this Hollywood heart warmer.
– Sinann Fetherston