In The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a remake of the classic 1947 film adaptation of the James Thurber short story, Ben Stiller plays a day dreaming Life Magazine employee who tries to escape the ins and outs of his boring day to day life through the adventures played out in his mind when an important photo negative that is to be used in the final issue of the magazine goes missing. Only when his job is threatened does he turn his dreaming double life into reality to save his job and his soul.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty exhibited some fantastic moments. Parading the viewer with an onrush of dynamic images, enthralling us into the adventures bestowed upon Walter. Often riveting set pieces, with breathtaking backdrops and situations. The adventures waiting to be written at the forefront of the narrative were coated with an involving score and energy lifting soundtrack, which helped propel the images on screen.
Where Walter Mitty stumbles and never fully gains momentum as a cinema experience is in its tone. From the muddled themes and odd visual choices, it managed to feel detached from any cohesive storytelling. Mixing laughs with an undertow of awkwardness that hit the mark often, but then sometimes ruined the potential of some scenes.
Ben Stiller does an admirable job in his role, but he never builds upon his acting talents, playing safely and comfortably, which also succumbs to Kristen Wiig, who seems to have only been cast for her comedic stylings. Unfortunately it leads to an unrelated connection to the characters and a dismissive lack of emotional drive to the story.
Transitions from Walters day to day life, to then his day dreaming fantasies are never cohesive enough to make the actual events taking place in his life more plausible than the ones that play out during the realm of his imagination. Only during his climb through the rugged terrain of the Himalayas does the film truly transfix a sense of time and place, echoing the true inspiration and plausibility of his final step in the journey, and treats us to some touching moments of purity.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an often enjoyable and extravagant collage of cinematography, visual effects and spectacle but blunders to find its strength tonally. Never quiet balancing between humour and drama, with the obvious need to edit out a large portion of the surreal fantasy and absurd comedy that tarnishes a good length of the run time.
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