Director: Ben Stiller
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Sean Penn
Screenplay: Steve Conrad
114 mins. Rated PG for some crude comments, language and action violence.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of those movies that will divide critics and audiences alike. Some will walk out with a new view on life. Some will walk out wondering what the hell they just sat through. Me, I lie somewhere in the middle. I admire a lot of what director/star Ben Stiller was trying to do with the film. Some of it worked and some of it didn’t.
The Secret Life tells the story of Walter Mitty, a Life Magazine worker with a very boring life, who dreams of something more. Pretty standard. Walter daydreams…a lot. He is charged with finding a missing frame from a roll of film by Sean O’Connell, a famous professional photographer who shares an odd bond with Walter. This causes the daydreams of Mitty to begin to take form as he embarks on a miraculous journey of self-discovery.
I would say that the only issue I found with the somewhat generic plot would by the motivation of lead character Walter. What about today? Why, today, does he choose to take on such an insane journey? We never really find out completely.
The performances from the lead cast are pretty solid. Kristen Wiig plays the muse, Cheryl Melhoff, a fellow Life employee who assists him in his search. Adam Scott plays our resident ass, Ted Hendricks, Walter’s new boss. Sean Penn is truly a presence in his near-cameo as Sean O’Connell. He makes the entire film affirming and enjoyable.
The cinematography is a step up from previous Ben Stiller films. I’ve always found him to be a very capable director. The film is edited together nicely. The music actually works even though I didn’t think it would.Really, there are a few times when Stiller’s attempts at creating a visual piece fall flat. There is a moment that works early in the film where a Life Magazine mantra is displayed in the background as Walter is on his journey. That worked for me. Then, there is a scene where the text messages he receives from Cheryl are displayed in the side of a mountainous forest. That didn’t work for me.
The film has its hits. It has its misses. Go see it, and see for yourself. It may work for you, it may not.
-Kyle A. Goethe