“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” Is Refreshing Cinema

Since a colleague of mine wrote an official review for the film on my site, film-addict.com, I get to come here and dish my take on the film.   There will be no rating, info or trailer.  Just the plot and my take on a new film.  A Dose of Buffa movie special if you will.   My review of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

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SETUP-Walter Mitty works as a negatives collector at LIFE Magazine(framed after the real life TIME) and the magazine is shutting down it’s publishing department and pumping out one last print version.   The cover will come from war photographer(Sean Penn) and Mitty can’t find the negative required for it.  This guy is a daydreamer and gets lost in moments thinking about sudden great adventures that he has thrown himself into.   Suddenly, he is in one of his classic adventure moments but this time it’s real.  On a trip that takes him from Greenland to Iceland to The Himalayas, Mitty finally is the adventure.

MY TAKE-Ben Stiller dares you to dream with his latest feature and reminds this film addict why I love the movies in the first place.   When we enter the theater, we have little clue of what awaits us or what this experience will do to our day or whether it will have an effect on our lives.   That is the visceral punch of filmmaking; Leaving a dent on someone’s soul inside two hours.

With The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Stiller knocks this one out of the park and takes us on an amazing experience for 2 hours.

This movie is a special experience for many reasons.   Stiller was born to play Mitty, an insecure dreamer who can’t say the right thing in front of the woman he loves or get the guts to live wild again.  I am not a huge fan of the actor, often because I think he could be doing more with his talent.    Greenberg and The Cable Guy showed me what he can do when challenged and this is material made for him.  He will make his kids comedies and box office hits, but this film feels personal to me and I can guess it was f or him.   Stiller produced and directed the tale with a stellar script from Steven Conrad, and it’s adapted from a short story by James Thurber.  The role calls for the eccentric wackiness that Stiller can perform with ease.   He doesn’t give an Oscar worthy performance here, but it’s a very good one and serves as the grounding agent for this head in the clouds tale.

The production isn’t pigeon holed into one genre and keeps the story moving at all times.  Mitty doesn’t slow down and never stays trapped in one area of interest, and that adds to the experience.   Action, comedy, drama, romance and fantasy enter the whiskey bottle that this film is developed in and the result is quite invigorating.  There are hilarious homages to The Curse of Benjamin Button and The Matrix.   The object of Mitty is to entertain while wrapping the viewer up in that nostalgia that is missing from far too many movies who take themselves so seriously that it drains out the fun.

The cast is great all the way to the bottom of the barrel.    Sean Penn makes for a larger than life photographer who shoots erupting volcanoes while hanging off the edge of a charter plane and the actor’s persona fits the role.  Shirley Maclaine gives a lovely performance as Mitty’s warm and caring mother, and this marks her first film work in years.   Kathryn Hahn is her usual lovable wacky self here as the sister who doesn’t seem to be paying attention.   Kristen Wiig’s performance in a film is appealing to me for the first time, as she adds just enough whimsical quirk to the object of Mitty’s affection.   Patton Oswalt and Adam Scott are fine in smaller roles.  The steal of the film and the role I won’t forget is the boozing helicopter pilot in Greenland played by newcomer Olafur Darri Olafsson.   His interactions with Stiller are hilarious and catapult the film.

A scene involving a woman playing an acoustic guitar, a man running into a helicopter and a David Bowie’s song is one of the best I’ve seen all year.  Mitty is full of those wildly unforgettable moments.

The soundtrack is electric and full of classics and unheard gems, like “Wake Up” from Arcade Fire and “Dirty Paws” from Of Monsters and Men.  In a movie that is framed about the images in our life and how we shape ourselves in them, music is the water that these characters move around in.

As a kid, I spent a decent amount of time daydreaming and getting lost for a few minutes.  These days, I still find myself walking into a store and creating this adventure in my head where I am the hero. Creative people do this and never stop because it keeps life fresh when the days run bland.  Stiller’s Mitty teaches us that it’s okay to dream as long as you take the required adventures in life.   A movie that reminds us the best dreams are the ones we actually play out in real life after a soundcheck in our head.   Don’t leave it all in your head.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may not be the perfect film for award circuits, but it was the perfect experience for me.  A 31 year old daydreamer who loves movies that take him away from that dark seat in a movie theater to a place that energizes his soul.   The best parts of Mitty are the quiet dramatic moments mixed with the feel good elements of the plot.  There’s an adventurous kid in every one of us, but it’s our job to let them come out and play.  Go see this movie.  If you let it in, the result will be one of the best experiences you will ever have at the movies.

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For more movie news, reviews and sophisticated take on the world of cinema, head over to my site, film-addict.com.  I hope you enjoyed this Dose of Buffa special movie review.

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Author: D. Buffa

A regular guy who feels a journalistic hunger to tell the news. I blog because its wired into my brain to write what I think in print. I offer an opinion. A solo tour here. Take regular stories and offer my spin on them. Sports, film, television, music, fatherhood, culture, food, and so on. Commentary on everything. A St. Louis native and Little Rock resident who wants to write just to keep the hands fresh and ready.

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