The Secret Life of Walter Mitty review

Ben Stiller
Ben Stiller
Kristen Wiig
Adam Scott
Rated: PG

Ben Stiller takes zoning out to a whole new level in this movie.

Stiller both directs and stars as Walter Mitty in this film. The lead protagonist lives in what he feels is a rather dull life, working a day job where he processes negatives at Life magazine. Mitty also would like to approach a coworker named Cheryl (Wiig), but is to shy to do so.

Because his life is unexciting and he isn’t able to approach Cheryl on his own, he often fall into fantastical daydreams where he can escape the realities of life.

His daydreaming has to come to an end, though, when he finds out that Life magazine will be printing its last magazine and moving to a digital format which in turn will lead to multiple people being fired. The person who is handling all the lay-offs is Ted (Scott) from the Human Resources division.

Ted explains that for the last magazine, the company will publish a cover featuring a photo from a famous photographer. The problem is that the negative for the image is lost. To find the photo, Mitty decides to track down the photographer himself, even if it means traveling across the world.

“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” starts off rather slow and it leads to an uncompelling first act. It’s understandable that the film was trying to establish the fact that Mitty is a dreamer and wishes for a more exciting life, however, many of the dream sequences don’t transition well and are just too over the top.

Once the film actually gets to the point of Mitty going on his journey, though, the movie picks up. It doesn’t just get better because Mitty is doing exciting things in real life, it’s also that finding himself gets to be an endearing experience for the audience. The ending of the movie did leave some things to be desired, however, mainly because it ties everything up in too perfect of a bow.

Ben Stiller brings a good performance to the movie. Stiller makes the transition that the character undergoes in the film believable and it really helps the story work. Unfortunately, Stiller was the only actor who gave a performance worth being memorable.

The weakest part of the film are the supporting characters, who just seem to be bland caricatures instead of having any real depth. Ted is too much of a jerk to be convincing and Cheryl just seems like a rather simple love interest. The characters are written in way that doesn’t allow either Wiig or Scott, two good talents, to really bring true emotion or even humor to the picture.

There was another supporting character, Walter’s sister Odessa played by Kathryn Hahn, who really took the movie down a notch. The way the character acted was ridiculous and annoying, to make matters worse, she offered nothing to the film besides some weak comedy.

The one part of the movie that was perfect to me was the technical aspect. Stiller really captures some beautiful scenery throughout the entire film, shooting multiple locations. The soundtrack was also strong and fit the mood of what was going on screen.

“Mitty” is a movie that had potential, but it seems like it wasn’t fully realized.

The movie takes a bit too long to get going and the ending could have been improved, plus, most of the characters just don’t make much of an impact. What helps the movie be slightly enjoyable is a solid performance by Stiller and a strong second act. The film is also helped by some gorgeous shots of the various landscapes where the movie was made. 3 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

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