Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller directs and stars in an updated remake of the 1947 Danny Kaye vehicle of the same name.  Stiller plays Walter Mitty, a meek and lonely man in charge of the photography negatives for Time magazine.  As his real life is pretty mundane, Mitty lives out his fantasies in his mind, with long moments of delusions of grandeur.  But the lines of what is real and what is fantasy get blurred when he embarks on a journey to find the missing negative slated for the cover of Time's final publication.  And in the process he will hopefully win the heart of his office crush, played by Kristen Wiig.

It's great to see Stiller get away from those silly and often stupid comedies he loves so much to take on a project with more substance.  And he really shows his directing chops here creating a slightly surrealistic and quirky fantasy and adventure film with a unique style and soundtrack that seems somewhat inspired by his past collaborations with auteurs Wes Anderson and Noah Baumbach (in 'The Royal Tennenbaums' and 'Greenberg', respectively.)  It's more than a bit awkward at the beginning, but I imagine purposely so.  And after a while, as Mitty gets more comfortable in his own skin, we get more comfortable watching him and really sink in and enjoy the film, ultimately leaving the theater feeling fully satisfied.  This one's for the daydreamer in you.  It's some of the best work of Stiller's career and I hope he continues to give us more like this and less like the upcoming 'Zoolander 2'.

Grade: A-

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