The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty


Reviewed by: Angus Wolfe Murray

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty
"He takes the antihero into areas of sad you never knew you wanted to avoid."

The man has form. James Thurber's short story in The New Yorker became Danny Kaye's 1949 movie, followed by clones, such as Billy Liar, and suddenly in the Fifties the expression "being a Walter Mitty" entered popular parlance, meaning a dreamer, a daydreamer.

The modern generation knows nothing of this, so when Ben Stiller comes along in 2013 and tears it to pieces, they wouldn't be aware of what has been vandalised.

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Walter Mitty (Stiller), Life magazine's negative asset manager, responsible for filing and providing pictures sent in by staff photographers is, as you would expect, a nobody. He works in the basement and has no life outside. He's not shy, although appears so; he's why?

Guys like this never get the girl, never go anywhere, are obsessed with the minutiae of their work and are about as much fun as The Knitting Society's monthly newsletter.

Life - the mag, not that thing you do - is being closed down and they want a particular picture from their reclusive star photographer (Sean Penn) for the final cover. Mitty cannot locate it and so embarks on a travelogue in an attempt to find the man who snapped it.

Before he leaves there are a couple of CGI superhero-type daydreams which turn out to be the sole references to Thurber. After that it's air miles and chilly adventures in bleak landscapes.

Oh, there is a girl (Kristen Wiig). Walter fancies her, but she doesn't notice - who would? - until he brings back a skateboard from Greenland for her son.

Stiller is an acquired taste. Those who walked out of Zoolander and sat tight-lipped through Meet The Parents will be baffled by such a deadpan performance in a film he directed.

He takes the antihero into areas of sad you never knew you wanted to avoid.

The dreams are fun; the rest is a test.

Reviewed on: 03 Jan 2014
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The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty packshot
A sad little man who dreams of heroic derring-do goes on a real life adventure in cold countries
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Director: Ben Stiller

Writer: Steve Conrad, based on the story by James Thurber

Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Jon Daly, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, Grace Rex, Gary Wilmes, Sean Penn

Year: 2013

Runtime: 114 minutes

BBFC: PG - Parental Guidance

Country: US


New York 2013

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If you like this, try:

Billy Liar