The Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie poster
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The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty movie poster

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Movie Review

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Ben Stiller directs himself in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, a movie that is as beautiful as it is boring. About a daydreamer who is forced to go on a real adventure to find a missing photograph for the final issue of Life magazine, the comedy-drama is frustratingly close to being really good. It just isn't.

The movie is a refreshingly bold attempt to do something different. The experiment doesn't quite work, but you can see that Stiller went balls to the wall in his attempt create a film that is simultaneously mainstream and unique. Featuring beautiful scenery and vivid photography, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is at times breathtaking. At least from a visual perspective.

So that's something.

Unfortunately, the movie suffers from two major problems: inconsistency and hubris. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has a decent amount of entertaining segments and Stiller even manages to piece them together occasionally, especially when he sends his character into other countries. But as entertaining as it can be, the movie, without warning and far too often, can unleash dreadfully boring moments.

Stiller assumed that with a cool premise and an adventure-themed story that that would be enough, but he barely comes close to the film's potential. The moments where Walter (Stiller) zones out and fantasizes about something happening, whether it's the girl of his dreams (Kristen Wiig) falling into his arms after saving her three-legged dog from certain death or him beating the crap out of a hated boss (Adam Scott), are amusing but rarely funny; a stronger, tighter screenplay could have amped up the ridiculous factor immensely. And even when the film is at his best, when he travels to Greenland, jumps into shark-infested waters and escapes a volcanic explosion, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty still could have offered more.

Anytime the movie returns to New York City - and it does far too often - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty screeches to a halt and effectively loses its charm. The budding relationship between Walter and Wiig's Cheryl is cute but predictable, shrugworthy at best, and hardly enough to glue the story's bigger sequences together.

Stiller does a fine enough job, opting for a different kind of awkward from what he normally does while still not entirely breaking from the Ben Stiller routine, probably because he is incapable of doing so. It's in New York where he is forced to carry the film himself, and he just hasn't given himself enough material to make it worthwhile.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is entertaining about half the time, but the stilted storytelling approach never allows the film to gain momentum. As a result, the movie is a bore to watch - a shame given that it's oh-so-close to being one hell of an experience.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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