Friday, December 27, 2013

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The very first time that I saw the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, I was hooked! And, there were only like three word in the entire trailer! Although I am a fairly straightforward and blunt, I do enjoy self-reflective films, and Walter Mitty promised an amazing opportunity to look at life from a different perspective. I know I have written, in the past, about the lack of imagination in the modern world and how that lack of imagination has tightened the gap between the fantasy that is found in film and the fantasy that is found in reality. What was once thought to be imaginative and unreachable is now a part of our everyday life, making it hard to see a fictitious story without any peak at reality. With the day dreaming of Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, I was extremely hopeful that I would be able to grasp at and appreciate imagination for a couple of hours, regardless of how creatively and imaginatively challenged I may truly be...

A number of the mixed reviews that I have seen for Walter Mitty were critical of the film's inability to create a great story to go along with the obvious theme of complacency that Walter struggles with. In my opinion, the simplicity of the story allowed the audience an opportunity to truly soak in the message of the film, which encourages us to go out and do, rather than live in a constant state of "what if." Although many folks may not have the same issues as Walter, I think the story is certainly entertaining and relatable, to say the least. On a personal note, to say that Walter Mitty was relatable would probably be an understatement. Whether or not it's obvious, deep inside me, there is a lot of ambition, and, because I tend to dwell on logic and money, that ambition rarely manifests itself in my life. Going in to the film, I expected Walter to be some sort of social outcast who feared human interaction. Instead, he was just a quiet guy who had a lot on his mind. Basically, he was Tanner Jones in a movie.

I know that I already spent a lot of time of time talking about Walter Mitty, so I will try to avoid dwelling on Ben Stiller's character too much. However, Walter was the complete and total focal point of the film, so he deserves the attention. Stiller's performance was good, but the character carried the film further than Stiller's acting, by far.

While she may be ridiculously crazy, Kathryn Hahn is quickly becoming one of my favorite comedic actresses, and I have come to expect her to be hilarious in every single film or TV show in which she might appear. Although the story was about Walter, I though Hahn should have been given a bit more time to shine, as Walter's sister, Odessa. I would have liked it better if Walter's mom, played by Shirley MacLaine, had been removed from the picture and Walter was more involved in caring for Odessa. But, you can't always get what you want! Additionally, I didn't care for Adam Scott's performance as businessman Ted Hendricks. The rude nature of Hendricks was not at all typical for Scott, and it just didn't sit right with me.

The over-zealous eHarmony guy, Todd Maher, (played by Patton Oswalt) was easily the greatest minor character in the film. I wasn't expecting quite as many laughs as came along with this movie, and many of those were brought out by Todd, who helped move along Walter's relationship attempts with Kristen Wiig's Cheryl Melhoff. I really enjoyed the relationship between Walter and Cheryl, although it was over-dramatized a bit. Without Wiig's normalcy, I don't know if Walter would have been able to come across as relatable as he did, which was my favorite aspect of the film.

Over the past few weeks, my post-trailer optimism for Walter Mitty had begun to fade. After hearing mixed reviews and seeing the vague trailer over and over and over, my high expectations became mediocre. Luckily, the film was able to reach my originally high expectations and deliver the self-reflective moments that I truly love. Walter's imagination wasn't quite as bold as I had anticipated, but that just made the movie even better, to me. In fact, I could actually see myself daydreaming in the same way that Walter did (minus the blanking out). This year has contained very few films that I will be able to watch over and over, but I think The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may be this year's "Most Likely to Stay On Repeat," much like 2012's The Perks of Being a Wallflower and 2011's Midnight in Paris. However, it could be quickly dethroned by Inside Llewyn Davis, if that film would just hurry up and get to Hattiesburg! Regardless, Walter Mitty was a pleasant surprise that I would certainly encourage each and every reader to check out. Plus, it's family friendly, so grandma can come too! Plus, the music was amazing (had to get that plug in there)! I give The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 3.68 out 5 stars. 


  1. Nice review, Tanner. Like you, I had HIGH hopes for this one, which easily became my most anticipated of the year after its AWESOME trailers (seriously, the trailers for this movie are some of the best I've seen). Sadly, I may have built this one up a bit too much, as it wasn't quite as good as I was hoping, but still decent. Though I might've been a bit harsh on it, there is still a lot to like here, so I'm glad you ended up enjoying this one as much as you did. :)

    1. I don't think my hopes were quite as high as yours, but the trailers were fantastic! Thanks for the comment!