#85 The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Starring Ben Stiller, Kirsten Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott and Shirley Maclaine. Directed by Ben Stiller. 114 minutes.
Walter Mitty is a perennial daydreamer prone to blanking out and creating the most imaginative daydreams, to supplement his staggering dull and lonely existence. He works as a Negative Resources Manager for Life magazine and when said mag is sold and the he loses the negative for the final cover he must overcome his long term grief, caused by the death of his father over 30 years previously, man up and head out to hunt down the photographer (the excellent Sean Penn) and locate the missing negative. Along the way his real-life adventures take-over from his make-believe ones and he becomes a fully rounded human being, able to get the girl and succeed as a human being and all it took was three fantastically expensive trips to far away countries and a couple of extreme sports thrown in for good measure.
First off, this isn't the comedy Ben Stiller was touting in the extended trailers and neither is it cramped with fantastical fantasy sequences as implied. This is a much, much smaller film about a man over coming his shyness and bereavement issues to ask out a girl in his office, whom he's stalking.
It's hard not to like this film, being as it is, incredibly none offensive, indeed it wants desperately to be loved. Plus it stars Ben Stiller and he has one of the faces that's difficult to hate (I think it's his big doe-eyed, moist filled eyes that bore into your very soul every-time the camera crams in for a long, lingering close up – don't worry, if you miss one there'll be another along in a minute – and screams LOVE ME!). That said, this is also a film that desperately wants an Oscar, "Haven't I done enough for it?" it pleads as it grabs your heart strings and tugs for all its worth. It sets out with that agenda for glory and it crushes all in its wake to achieve it, from the rousing, indie music to the stunning scenery. This is a film that desperately wants to be loved.
But scrap away the saddness, the earnestness, the heart-lifting music and the stunning scenery and it's pretty empty.
The film doesn't really have a plot as such just a long rambling, and manipulative journey to self discovery. That said, it does have a touching finale, which I had to say choked me up.
Beautifully shot, with some moving performances and brilliant music. It's this century's Forest Gump but with the mawkish, horrific sentimentality replaced by a vacuum and a rather desperate need to be loved at all costs and it's a rather empty and shallow experience.