Yea it maybe too earnest and sappy, but that’s okay. In this day and age it’s nice to have something like this since EVERYTHING is cynical. But I’m surprised how well the film balanced itself on the tightrope of comedy, drama, adventure, and fantasy making them all blend together perfectly. I had no qualms with the jokes because they had me, two of my colleagues, my brother, and the very small audience laughing throughout the film.
Walter Mitty (played by Ben Stiller) is a lovelorn man with an insignificant life. He escapes the real world through elaborate daydreams he constantly zones out on. Working at Life Magazine as a negative editor, he sets off on a global journey to find a missing negative taken by Sean O’Connell (played by Sean Penn) to be used as the cover of the last issue of Life Magazine. In the process, he finds himself and connects with his crush and co-worker Cheryl Melhoff (played by Kristen Wiig).
I know people are gonna have a hard time with the Life quote constantly popping up in the film, but you know what it works. The film pulls at the right heartstrings without being too schmaltzy or having too much cheese.
To me what makes this film relatable is that everyone daydreams. And Walter is nice timid guy, you wanna see him win. Then again, a lot of my favorite films this year have been about lonely heartbroken losers. *Kanye shrug*
Ben Stiller really impressed me that he was able to pull of a role like this while having amazing photography that made me want to pause the film at points and just stare at a specific fame. More on the photography in a minute, but he was also able to get excellent performances out of his cast. Even though the characters all play a role to help Walter along his journey in one way or another, it works. THIS film didn’t need complex characters with complex back stories. Adam Scott is awesome as Walter’s dickhead boss (we all work for a person like that so, that is easy to relate to), the great Shirley MacLaine gives life to the very small role of Walter’s mother as does Kathryn Hahn as Walter’s sister Odessa. I won’t spoil it here but, a certain actor/comedian kills his small role also as an eHarmony operator who befriends Walter over the course of the film. I also enjoyed the fact that they made Ms. Wiig a character in this film cause to me in everything I’ve seen her in she’s just pretty much playing herself. And they made her really attractive in this film too.
Back to Stiller’s direction outside of acting it’s a marvel to behold as the real star of the film is Stuart Dryburgh’s lush, beautiful photography. He helps blur the line of real and surreal in this film with the look of a dream the entire time. I gotta hand it Ben and Stuart as they make colors in this film pop wheter it’d be blue in eyes, red on a car, the green hills of Iceland, and even the streets of Manhattan look beautiful in this film. Ben has really matured as a director as he can juggle perfectly the balls of directing, acting, AND producing on this picture perfectly. He knew how to pace this film, not making any moment whether it’d be serious or funny too long. This will be a neck and neck race come Oscar time for Best Cinematography with this and Gravity.
I also liked the undercurrent theme of film versus digital. In a world where movies shot on film are dying, it’s nice to see that be translated into a story in the 21st century.
The soundtrack was great too as was the score. And yes “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men that is prominently featured in the trailers is featured in a sequence of the film as well over the end credits. Gotta say the use of the songs were great to not playing them for too long and using them at the right moment where it fits.
The only problem I had was that there was a bar fight that seemed kinda out of character for Walter. And the way it started and ended I thought it was another daydream.
This is great family movie to take everyone young and old to on Christmas Day. I think all parties going in will enjoy this film. Hell, I’d even take a date to see this. I wish this was getting an IMAX release.