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The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty

 
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The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - 27/12/2013 12:47:08 AM   
Empire Admin

 

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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - 27/12/2013 12:47:08 AM   
R W

 

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Amongst the group of American comedic actors known as the “Frat Pack” – including Will Ferrell, Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson – Ben Stiller was the most interesting as not only did he have his funny moments or he’s an interesting film director with films like the cult favourite Zoolander and Tropic Thunder. Having done satire, Stiller provides something different in his fifth feature as he tackles James Thurber’s classic short story about an everyman who has a knack of daydreaming.

Working as an employee for Life Magazine, frequent daydreamer Walter Mitty (Stiller) – who works in the negative assets department – imagines himself in fantastic adventures where he saves the day and wins the girl, in this case his co-worker Cheryl Melhoff (Kristen Wiig). As the magazine is approaching its final issue, world-exploring photojournalist Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) sends a special photograph that would be ideal for the issue’s front cover, but negative 25 is missing, so Mitty decides to go in search of O'Connell and find the missing negative.

Adapted for the screen back in 1947 as well as being adapted for the stage, James Thurber’s simple premise of a daydreamer in a mundane life has been expanded to an epic adventure in which he realises that the real world is more adventurous than what happens in his head. Quoted as “the new Forrest Gump”, The Pursuit of Happyness writer Steve Conrad’s script bears some similarity to Robert Zemeckis’ film as it is simple sentimental storytelling in globetrotting fashion, which even makes a gag about Benjamin Button: the other Gump-ish flick.

This version of Walter Mitty is two films in one, as the first half explores the protagonist’s boring life, which is actually the film is at its most funniest as Mitty imagines himself into these over-the-top Hollywood action sequences i.e. saving the dog from an exploding building or even more ridiculously, fighting his dick of a boss (a bearded Adam Scott) over a Stretch Armstrong toy. Despite its laughs throughout, some fit clumsily, one wouldn’t clarify Stiller’s film as a comedy and certainly in its latter half, it moves into drama as Mitty explores life at its most exotic with countries such as Greenland, Iceland and Afghanistan (all beautifully shot by cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh).

Considering its shift in tone, Stiller as both actor and director provides a level of charm throughout, which is a departure from his more edgy back catalogue. Apart from his flights of fancy, Stiller’s convincing performance as the eponymous everyman is subtle and is capable at playing straight drama. With Stiller in nearly every frame, he is surrounded by a pleasant supporting cast such as Kristen Wiig who again is somewhat downplaying her sense of humour and does a touching cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity”, while Sean Penn in an extended cameo is at his most mumbling best.

From Gen X to heightened satire, some may think that Ben Stiller as director has gone sentimental which is undeniable and yet his ambitious adaptation of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a wonderful dramedy about life at its most grandeur. Once you watch it, do something exciting in your life.

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RE: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty - 28/12/2013 8:48:37 AM   
chang

 

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More or less the opposite of the original story's irony. Stiller's movie is irony-free, but it's sweet and affecting nonetheless.

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solid - 29/12/2013 4:43:50 PM   
tysmuse

 

Posts: 348
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yeah, it's as nice as this review makes it out to be.

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Post #: 4
- 29/12/2013 5:51:23 PM   
skeletonjack


Posts: 1299
Joined: 30/9/2005
Saw this in November at a Secret Screening. Expected it to receive poor reviews as its dull as dishwater. I'm amazed some people actually like it. The new Forrest Gump? It's not a patch on FG!

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Post #: 5
Boring but the soundtrack is very good. - 30/12/2013 12:02:02 AM   
dinkydog

 

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Joined: 22/11/2012
A few funny scenes and a great music throughout but it's dull and boring. walked out half way through

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Post #: 6
boring - 30/12/2013 12:03:06 AM   
dinkydog

 

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boring film

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RE: boring - 30/12/2013 9:08:20 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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Walter Mitty is an employee at Life magazine who frequently daydreams of fantastic adventures which usually involving him rescuing his co-worker Cheryl Melhoff, with whom he is in love. Photojournalist Sean O'Connell has sent a special photograph that he says captures the'Quintessenc' of Life magazine and that it should be used for the cover of the magazine's final issue. Mitty works in the negative assets department, and has never lost a photo in his sixteen years of work at Life magazine, but negative 25 is missing. Using the other negatives as clues, Mitty decides to go in search of Sean O'Connell and find the missing negative….


James Thurber’s blackly comic and actually pretty dark short story Walter Mitty could be expanded into a really strong film, but this confused fluff masquerading as something more profound certainly isn’t it, and isn’t even as good as the 1947 musical version [actually Brazil is in some respects closer to the tone of the story], which at least was entertaining. This one sometimes comes across as more of an extended advertisement for Eharmony than anything else, while the insidious product placement throughout is distracting. Only the first third remotely resembles the supposed source material, though the fantasy sequences are often hampered by shoddy editing and CGI, while the so-called ‘comedy’ in the real world mostly falls flat. After a while, it all turns into a kind of New Agey adventure story whose message might very well be that you should live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment, but seemed to me more like ‘if you do crazy life-threatening stuff you’ll get your girl’, hardly a good message to present to the viewing public.

The photography of Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas is striking and a few moments do contain some of the magic that the whole thing seems to be half-heartedly striving for, but as many bits don’t work whatsoever, like a horrid Benjamin Button gag, though for most of the time the film isn't unpleasant, just bland and muddled. The film’s nostalgia for When Times Were Better would be more pleasing if Stiller and scriptwriter Steve Conrad hadn’t so thoroughly destroyed a literary classic and created something so empty and disjointed. I will say that the final shot brought a smile even to my mouth, but this is generally a major failure and, not to mention, a travesty of Sturber.

4.5/10

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RE: boring - 30/12/2013 10:53:21 PM   
Qwerty Norris


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From: Edinburgh
Out of interest doc, when was the last time you enjoyed yourself at the cinema? Judging by the reviews of yours I've read recently, it has been a while.

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Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

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Post #: 9
RE: boring - 31/12/2013 12:25:35 AM   
UTB


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If this is "the new Forrest Gump" I'll eat my cock off.

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Post #: 10
RE: boring - 31/12/2013 12:26:07 PM   
Dr Lenera

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris

Out of interest doc, when was the last time you enjoyed yourself at the cinema? Judging by the reviews of yours I've read recently, it has been a while.


I actually thoroughly enjoyed Frozen.There has been stuff I've enjoyed, but overall I think it's been an even worse year for cinema, at least of the mainstream kind, than last year.

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Post #: 11
A TRIP WORTH TAKING!!!! - 7/1/2014 10:48:02 PM   
Ramone87

 

Posts: 66
Joined: 24/12/2011
Surprisingly good movie from Ben Stiller!

As a director and star, Stiller does a fine job of adapting James Thurbers classic short story as he plays the famous daydreamer. Much like Forrest Gump but just a bit smarter, we encounter Walter at his hum drum office life working at Life Magazine as a photographer looking for a vital photo to keep his job and losing his chance to date his fellow co-worker Cheryl. Cue loads of crazy "daydreaming" sequences....be it saving a dog from a burning building, punching his asshole boss Ted (Adam Scott) through a lift into a 5 minute punchathon down a Street that even Spiderman would be jealous off, making adverts come to life in the most dramatic and subtle ways, make way for some dazzling visuals and great dramatic sequences.

Performances are solid throughout, and it's great to see Stiller proving he can do a serious role. The romantic blossoming realtionship bewtween Mitty and Cherly (a fine kristen Wiig) are believable, and there are some touching and funny scenes as Mitty's mobile phone gets calls not only from Cheryl but his technical advisor at his dating website Eharmony! His journey takes him his dull offices to grand places, all the while hunting for clues for the whereabouts of Photojournalist Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn) who must hold secrets to where the vital negative for the cover of Life Magazine could be. So from Greenland, a great scene with drunk Karaoke Helicopter pilot to Iceland, by plane, car and even skateboard we go from location to location with real verve and gusto, wanting to find out if Walter does complete his mission.

Not only is the film genuinely funny in places there some really nice poignant bits. The final scene in the Himalayas is particularly impressive, Stiller showcasing his acting skills rather than his usual goofing around. Once it all ties up nicely we begin to truly realize the meaning of the "Quintessence" of life,..you find it everywhere, a photo, a place, a memory but ultimately finding true love, Walter will make sure you understand that at least in one way or the other.


WATCH IT!!!

< Message edited by Ramone87 -- 7/1/2014 10:49:04 PM >

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Post #: 12
RE: A TRIP WORTH TAKING!!!! - 12/1/2014 2:59:10 PM   
Qwerty Norris


Posts: 3945
Joined: 26/10/2005
From: Edinburgh
By the way doc, after seeing this yesterday I'm in complete agreement with your review.

_____________________________

Qwerty's Top 10 of 2013 (so far)

1. Zero Dark Thirty
2. No
3. A Hijacking
4. Behind the Candelabra
5. In The Fog
6. Good Vibrations
7. McCullin
8. Beyond the Hills
9. The Place Beyond the Pines
10. Wreck-it Ralph

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Post #: 13
I loved it. - 12/1/2014 5:32:21 PM   
tommyinglis

 

Posts: 18
Joined: 14/10/2011
From: Methil Hill, Fife, Scotland
Everything from the acting (Kirsten Wiig was so much better than I thought she'd be) to the message blew me away. It's visually amazing, the dialogue is good, and it's a type film that doesn't get made too much these days. I will definitely watch it again.

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Post #: 14
RE: A TRIP WORTH TAKING!!!! - 13/1/2014 8:30:55 AM   
Dr Lenera

 

Posts: 3828
Joined: 19/10/2005

quote:

ORIGINAL: Qwerty Norris

By the way doc, after seeing this yesterday I'm in complete agreement with your review.


Yer what, we AGREE on a film?

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RE: I loved it. - 19/1/2014 10:03:31 AM   
m_er


Posts: 3955
Joined: 30/9/2005
From: Istanpool

quote:

ORIGINAL: tommyinglis

Everything from the acting (Kirsten Wiig was so much better than I thought she'd be) to the message blew me away. It's visually amazing, the dialogue is good, and it's a type film that doesn't get made too much these days. I will definitely watch it again.


I quite agree.

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RE: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - 27/1/2014 8:08:03 PM   
LewisHartleyReviews

 

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Thoroughly enjoyed this movie...

< Message edited by elab49 -- 27/1/2014 8:15:25 PM >


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RE: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - 28/1/2014 12:15:29 PM   
spamandham

 

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Pointless remake number 1234574679896545

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RE: The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty - 29/1/2014 8:52:14 PM   
BrodysBoats

 

Posts: 2
Joined: 28/1/2014
I actually loved this movie. Ben Stiller is under appreciated as a director.

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Post #: 19
A beautiful, wonderful, feel-good movie. - 15/2/2014 1:36:06 PM   
BigScreenBullfrog

 

Posts: 4
Joined: 27/9/2013
Some people have called it boring. Well, go and watch die hard, things blow up, I'm sure that'll keep your attention. What kept my attention in this film was the beautifully directed and wonderfully shot scenes of our amazing planet. Ben Stiller is fantastic and kudos to his talent for as a director.

I gave this film ★★★★

See my full review here: http://bigscreenbullfrog.wordpress.com/2014/02/15/the-secret-life-of-walter-mitty

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Post #: 20
Painfully dull, with some nice vistas. - 28/3/2014 11:15:21 PM   
Azzurro06

 

Posts: 35
Joined: 9/9/2013
My title says it all. Avoid.

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Post #: 21
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