Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Written by –Steven Panzarella (@ProCreateSteve)
The Short- Ben Stiller’s most ambitious outing as a director, Walter Mitty is beautifully shot, imaginative, and fun to watch. It struggles from a flat script with choppy dialogue that takes away from the majestic beauty on screen. Sadly, the actors can’t help but fall flat from the lack of depth in the script which makes this beautiful painting look more like an instagram page.
The long- The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is not the most critically acclaimed movie directed by actor/director Ben Stiller but it is the prettiest. The original idea for a remake of the 1947 film that starred Danny Kaye was formed by producer Samuel Goldwyn Jr in 1994 with Jim Carrey to star. From 1994 to 2007 Carrey, Owen Wilson, and Mike Myers, were all attached to the film but a movie was never made. A role was even offered to Sacha Baron Cohen in 2010 but the film went away until Ben Stiller picked it up with screen writer Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness). Stiller, who stars and directs the movie, also brought in some great talent to act alongside him including Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine, and Patton Oswalt. Everything was there for this film to be a rousing success and as a beautifully shot, heartfelt comedy/drama it was, but the shortcomings from the films script took away from the experience that is The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Besides maybe Gravity, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty contained the best cinematography on film in 2013. It was well directed by Stiller who made you believe in his story, even if his characters were mostly charmless. It looked like it would be his best work but after about an hour of watered down, flat dialogue you realized that all of the beauty may have been for naught. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is imaginative and heartfelt in story but the dialogue written by Steve Conrad and performed by this quality cast falls well short of expectations. The further along you get into the film the better the dialogue becomes culminating in a number of fantastic scenes toward the conclusion. Yet the first half is mired in uninteresting, superficial scenes of lame dialogue that ruin the beauty of a film that could have been truly epic.
There are plenty of very nice things about The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. The action sequences are incredibly cool and fun to watch. In the films second half the adventures of Walter Mitty are so much fun to look at that for an instant you forget the movie's shortcomings. Stiller and company do a quality job of entering you into his dream world so much so that there are plenty of times you wonder whether the whole movie is a dream or reality. If the script was stronger (or someone other than Patton Oswalt and Sean Penn would have stepped up) The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may have been my favorite movie of 2013; it certainly was the nicest to look at.
Final Grade- B-