I did enjoy his performance in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Stiller plays the titular character as this sad sack who stalks his co-worker, Cheryl (played by Kristen Wiig) on a dating website, but can’t seem to connect with her. We know that his co-workers like him and he is good at his job at Life magazine, but faces termination due to downsizing. He has never done anything great or gone anywhere cool. He only daydreams about what he wants to do and where he wants to go and it is only a crisis that manages to force him out of his fantasy world into the real world. He finds out what he is truly made of and what he can become.
One criticism I read is that there are a lot of product placement shots, and in truth, there are: Nikon, eHarmony, Google, Papa John’s Pizza. But I tend not to notice this kind of thing unless someone else brings up the issue. Another criticism I have is that the “bearded boss” in charge of downsizing was a one dimensional character only in the film to be a comic foil to Walter Mitty. I’m not a fan of the actor playing him (Adam Scott.) But in fairness, the Adam Scott character is necessary for Mitty’s personal development. He does not understand Mitty, and even looks down on him in contempt. He stands in Mitty’s way and becomes an obstacle that Mitty needs to overcome to realize his true state.
Kristen Wiig turns in a fine performance, as always. Sean Penn delivers a great performance as the man the Walter Mitty admires and wants to be. Penn’s character becomes the catalyst, setting Walter Mitty on the road to change and ultimately becomes Walter Mitty’s greatest champion.
The film has kind of a light blue cast to it, accented by splashes of bright blue in the background. I think the washed-out blue visually reinforces Mitty’s “blue” status. He’s unmarried; he pines for an attractive co-worker but has trouble making her acquaintance. He has never really gone anywhere or done anything. He has forgotten how to believe in himself. He lives vicariously through his daydreams. However, all is not lost; the bright splashes of blue represent a harbinger of things to come. Mitty only needs to believe in himself, take risks and good things will happen to him.
Worth a look if you like feel-good movies. Those who like stunning visuals may also want to view this movie.
Skip it if you don’t like Ben Stiller.
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