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
Brad (Black) is a birdwatcher who decides to do a Big Year, seeing as many birds as possible in 12 months, while holding down a full-time job and borrowing against his credit cards. Jetting around the country for rare spottings, he comes up against his record-holding nemesis Kenny (Wilson) as well as Stu (Martin), a corporate big-wig who has taken a year off work to follow his dream. But will their obsession with birding cause problems in their private lives?
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Slackers Dwayne and Travis (McBride and Swardson) are fed up with pressure from Dwayne's militaristic father (Ward), and decide to bump him off to get his money. They hire a hitman (Pena), but need cash to pay him, so they kidnap pizza delivery boy Nick (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank in the next 10 hours. He enlists his pal Chet (Ansari) and, with little time to spare, off they go. But of course nothing goes as planned.
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For three Hollywood heavyweights, the film adaptation of Vietnam vet Four Leaf Tayback's (Nick Nolte) war bestseller is rapidly spiraling out of control. Action hero Tugg Speedman (Stiller) is having a hard time digging up the requisite emotion, while Australian Method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.) actually has some "controversial" plastic surgery to up the authenticity. Pulling up the rear -- literally -- is fat funnyman Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black). After appearing in a collection of crude yet profitable comedies, the borderline junkie wants to go legit. Along with rapper Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and bit player Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel), these celebrities fall victim to Tayback and director Damien Cockburn's (Steve Coogan) scheme to add realism to the project. The plan? Take everyone into the Asian jungle and shoot it, guerilla style. The problem? A deadly drug cartel.
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No, this isn't a comedy like Little Shop of Horrors, but a shocking and disturbing experience that slaughters any comedic notions audiences may have after realizing they're watching a movie about killer flowers. Does the sight of a girl cutting herself open and pulling plants from her wounds make you cringe? Then prepare for one of the most unsettling horror films of the year.
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Blades begins with the backstory of figure skating prodigy Jimmy MacElroy (Jon Heder). Plucked from an orphanage and given his last name by creepy entrepreneur Darren MacElroy (William Fichtner), Jimmy is groomed to become a champion. His only competition is the exquisitely named Chazz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) who brings the swagger only a self-proclaimed sex addict can to the sport.
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Comprised of dueling acoustic guitarists Jack Black and Kyle Gass, the D fills albums with harmonious and ridiculously clever odes to their own awesomeness. Their rock operas would make excellent B-sides for Meat Loaf's Bat Out of Hell album. Indeed, the band belongs on a triple bill with '70s monsters of melodic metal Black Sabbath and Queen.
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This charm may not be entirely expected. After all, it is (1) an adaptation of a 1970s cop show, (2) arriving maybe a decade after the peak of seventies nostalgia, (3) assembled by director-writer Todd Phillips (Road Trip, Old School), whose previous movies were only funny to the extent that the actors could overcome his aimless, slapdash staging (Will Ferrell, no problem; Breckin Meyer, less so).
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Oh, and maybe also the brilliantly grotesque makeup by Chris Walas and Stephan Dupuis, who won an Oscar for their efforts. But The Fly is never dependent on this impressive craftwork. Cronenberg doesn't skimp on his trademark gooeyness, but doles it out selectively. Creepiness finds other, relatively dry and goo-free places to emerge. A scene of Seth Brundle (Goldblum), after he unwittingly shares a teleportation trip with a common housefly, rising in the middle of the night and performing amazing gymnastic feats becomes unnerving as the camera lingers on a long shot of his spinning, soaring body. Veronica Quaife (Davis) looks on, silent and still, unsure of what to do; tension rises in the scene because of the characters, not just because you don't expect to see Jeff Goldblum doing flips on the parallel bars.
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Much like Derek, Zoolander is a sweet simpleton of a movie. It's not complex in either its social commentary or its comedy, and it never produces any gut-busting laughs (except maybe a scene when Derek's model roommates all die in a tragic "gasoline fight" accident -- a riotously funny take-off of Tommy Hilfiger ads). But it has a satisfying handful of strong chuckles, wild characters and performances, and mildly harsh potshots at the fashion industry to keep you amused. Better yet, this exaggerated version of the original three-minute skit is only blown out to an efficient 95 minutes -- just enough time to string together its goofball plot without exhausting the gag.
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I feel for you. I thought the same thing. But it's only a few short minutes into Duplex when you realize just how wrong you were. Two things clue you in to the lackluster experience to come. First is an animated pre-credits sequence that shows a cartoon Ben Stiller and Drew Barrymore haplessly looking for a home. One knee-slapper vignette even puts them in a shack in the Sahara desert! Man, that's funny!
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