One of those swoony American dramas that explores life in all its wondrousness, this film will quickly annoy more cynical viewers. But others will find it a warmly inspirational story about breaking out of our dull routines to live life fully. It's gorgeously shot and edited, but a rougher edge might have made it easier to identify with.
Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a daydreamer who manages photographic negatives at Life magazine. Not only is his job deeply redundant in the age of digital photography, but Life is in the process of being downsized by a corporate henchman (Scott). And as they prepare the last print edition, Walter is in trouble because he can't locate an important negative sent to him by an old-school photographer (Penn). So he turns to Cheryl (Wiig), a colleague he secretly has a crush on, for help. And he finally gets the courage to make his dream to see the world a reality as he travels to remote Greenland and beyond to find the photographer.
The film takes the time to set up Walter's fantasy life with superbly rendered effects sequences before sending him out into the real world. So we really feel the weight of these new experiences for Walter. And as a director, Stiller shamelessly punches every emotional note with vivid photography, surging music and wide-eyed performances. The problem is that the characters are never much more than cartoons, defined by one or two key traits. At least the actors all do the best they can to add resonant details.
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Stuart Cornfeld - The 2013 New York Film Festival Presents The Centerpiece Gala Presentation of The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty at Alice Tully Hall NYC 10 5 13 - NYC, NY, United States - Sunday 6th October 2013