Director: Ben Stiller
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Patton Oswalt, Sean Penn
RunTime: 1 hr 55 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: http://www.waltermitty.com/index.html
Opening Day: 25 December 2013
Synopsis: In his secret life, Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller, who also directs) dreams big…really, really big. There’s no challenge beyond his grasp, be it climbing a massive glacier or rescuing a senior citizen from an exploding building. When he’s not daydreaming, the not-so-secret life of Walter Mitty is the opposite of his heroic alter-ego’s; he’s just an everyday guy facing imminent career downsizing, who’s too timid to ask out his pretty co-worker (Kristen Wiig). But when Walter faces his ultimate real-world test, he springs into action on a global adventure exceeding anything even he could have dreamed of.
This writer is no prophet, but this much he is sure - one day, our cynicism will be our downfall. And we will have no one to blame but ourselves. In this generation where everyone tries to outsmart each other by all means possible, it is rare to see something uncomplicated and straightforwardly positive. So when a movie with a simple message comes along, we embrace it. We hold on to it so tightly because we miss the good ol’ days when movies made us feel good.
This Ben Stiller directed movie does just that. Based on James Thurber’s 1939 short story of the same name, this second film adaptation (the first was in 1947, directed by Norman Z McLeod) places its protagonist Walter Mitty in Life magazine, where he frequently daydreams of fantastic adventures amidst the fast paced environment. When the magazine’s final issue decides to feature a special photograph by renowned photojournalist Sean O’ Connell, Walter Mitty’s life is changed forever when negative 25 goes missing. This is the first time he loses something in his 16 years working for the famed magazine, and it may be the first time he actually experiences life.
You may have heard some mixed reviews about this movie (that’s probably the reason why our write-up has been embargoed till Christmas Day), but we are advising you to disregard the naysayers and give this cinematic experience a go. Remember how this reviewer mentioned how cynicism will get the better of us? It is because of human nature’s need to question, to demand for all things logical, that we miss out on the simple beauties that will give us that extra spurt to move on in life.
This is Stiller’s sixth directorial work, and it is easily one of this writer’s favourite films of 2013. The 48 year old Hollywoodcelebrity has come a long way from 1994’s Reality Bites, 2001’s Zoolander, 2008’s Tropic Thunder, to this adventure fantasy comedy drama film. Coupled with some very rousing spectacle shot in Iceland, this film will make the traveler in you all inspired to pack up and go see the world. The soundtrack featuring Swedish folk pop singer Jose Gonzalez’s performance is also stirringly moving.
Stiller’s cast ensemble includes the rather underused Kristen Wigg (Despicable Me, Bridesmaids) as Walter Mitty’s love interest, Adam Scott (Piranha 3D, Bachelorette) as his mean boss, screen legend Shirley MacLaine (Valentine’s Day, Bernie) as his wise mother, and the reliable Sean Penn (The Tree of Life, Gangster Squad) as the photojournalist who inspired Walter Mitty to embark on a life changing adventure. Penn’s limited but memorable screen time is something you’d remember down the road, and the pivotal scene he appears in will have you pondering what memories mean to people in this day and age.
While this may not be 2013’s Life of Pi, you have to give credit to the filmmakers who have effectively used computer generated imagery to tell a simple story. If you have 115 minutes to spare, we’d highly recommend that you leave your skepticism elsewhere, step into the cinema to experience Walter Mitty’s world. Hopefully, when you leave the theatre, your worldview will be changed for the better as well.
(For inspiring us to see the world in a better light, this feel good movie is easily one of the year’s best films)
Review by John Li