"There is no better way to get ice coffee than to get it with actually arctic ice!" Titular character Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller) imagines himself as a mountain climber to his crush/co-worker Cheryl (Kristen Wiig) in a scene from Stiller's re-imaging of THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTYCredit Wilson Webb © 2013 Twentieth Century Fox Pictures. All Rights Reserved. 


KEY CAST MEMBERS: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Adrian Martinez, Shirley MacLaine, Jon Daly, Kathryn Hahn, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson, Patton Oswalt and Sean Penn

WRITER(S): Steve Conrad (screenplay); James Thurber (original short story that inspired the film)

DIRECTOR(S): Ben Stiller

60 SECOND PLOT SYNOPSIS (OR AS CLOSE TO IT AS ONE CAN TRY TO MAKE): A new, more dramatic interpretation of James Thurber's well-known short story that inspired the 1947 movie of the same name, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty stars Ben Stiller (who also directed) in the role of the titular character. A film editor at Life magazine (which ceased produced print issues full time in 2007), Walter is very good at his job and a good boss to his only employee, Hernando (Adrian Martinez). He is also very good to his sister (Kathryn Hahn) and mother Edna (Shirley MacLaine), helping out as best he can following the death of his father.

Walter is also a dreamer, a day dreamer to be more specific. Bored by his mundane existence, Walter often fantasizes to escape reality. But there is one thing – or person, rather – that always seems to snap him back into focus: Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), his new co-worker that he asks his eHarmony customer service rep Todd (Patton Oswalt) all sorts of questions about in hopes of catching her attention. But while Walter is daydreaming about Cheryl, he has a job to do, especially since a new company is buying and converting Life (like in real life) into an online only publication under the direction of Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott). And since his job involves tracking down the mysterious slide 25 from famed, mysterious photographer Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn), Walter has plenty of work to do.

Even if it involves making his secret life more public than he ever imagined ...

WHO WILL LIKE THIS FILM THE MOST?: Ben Stiller fans, Kristen Wiig fans, Patton Oswalt fans, people who enjoy films with a mix of comedy and drama, people who remember when Sean Penn did non serious roles

WHO WON'T LIKE THIS FILM?: Non Ben Stiller fans, people expecting something closer to the original film, those seeking slapstick comedy, people who prefer a film with less melodrama

BOTTOM LINE – IS IT GOOD, GREAT, BAD OR DOWNRIGHT AWFUL? With a balance of humor and heart, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a good movie that may inspire some but definitely entertain all those who venture to see it.

WHAT'S GOOD (OR BAD) ABOUT IT?: For all the (deserved) barbs he takes about the Meet the Parents series of films, Ben Stiller, like many actors known primarily for their comedic traits, is a pretty solid dramatic actor.

As Walter, Stiller opts not to go comedic for the most part, presenting the character as an Everyman who longs for the simple things many of us, male and female, pine for: Excitement and someone to share it with. There are no bug-eyes slapstick routines (save for one effective sequence with Scott), no shots to the groin or ridiculous gags; instead, you are taken on a journey with Walter as he embarks on his own journey of self discovery. A familiar theme? Yes, certainly, but Stiller - both performance-wise and visually - gives it a freshness unseen in his previous films to make it work and work well. When the comedy does happen, it mostly happens around him instead of directly to/because of him, which makes for a nice turn for those used to a certain type of Stiller experience. 

Wiig, in what likewise may be her most understated performance to date (i.e., she is allowed to essentially just be herself instead of a woman with a wacky personality or personal problems that seem insurmountable), does a great job by just doing her job. Again, for an actress known for going to extremes on her roles like Stiller, watching her just function as a regular person would shows just how adept she is at the craft of acting as a whole. Her understated performance helps fuel a movie where being a regular person who can make the ordinary feel extraordinary - and for that, she deserves kudos. 

Still, this is Stiller's vehicle to drive and drive it well he does thanks to his grand view of the larger picture of Walter's Life, encapsulated excellently with his work behind the camera. Again, Mitty is not his usual cinematic forte, a factor which results in stunning visuals, effective cartoon-like moments and a world where you can feel just big it can be in Walter's mind. It's almost Michel Gondry-esque, and when was the last time anyone thought THAT after seeing a Ben Stiller movie?

Thus, while it may not be his funniest work or revolutionary in the bigger scheme of Hollywood things, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a solid, heartfelt piece that, like its star/director, will take you to heights you will enjoy. 



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