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Hello all! I thought I would introduce myself: I’m McKegg Collins. I am a film student at Fitchburg State University and when I’m not studying or acting I like to write. Especially about film, television and other pieces of pop culture I consume without end. The folks at the Shrewsbury Lantern have been ever so kind as to give me the opportunity to review for you all! Once a week (maybe even more, who knows?!) I’ll be posting reviews, essays, and other writings from my forays into our pop culture. One week it might be a film, another some TV that’s happening, or maybe even a book or two once in a while. I look forward to writing these for you and I hope you enjoy reading them as much as I enjoy writing them. Here below is my first review!
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)
Dir. Ben Stiller
There are occasions where I will turn my back on a movie when I hear it didn’t get good reviews. Though The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was an odd case. The trailer was among the best of last year and my interest was piqued right away. However as word came through that it wasn’t good, I cast it away. Then when people I actually knew came back saying it was good, I knew I had to see what the deal was.
Walter Mitty is a mild-mannered photo developer working for the now defunct Life magazine. His day-to-day life is an ordinary one, but he often daydreams of having wondrous adventures in attempts to romance one of his co-workers, Cheryl. With the onset of a paperless world, Life magazine is being shut down and converted into a web site. For the last print issue, Walter cannot find a negative of the photo for the cover. Putting caution to the wind, Walter sets out to find it and those adventures he dreamed about become reality.
I will be the first to admit I was ashamed that I turned my back on this one. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is an enchanting piece of cinema. Ben Stiller has created a beautiful looking film thanks to Stuart Dryburgh’s stunning cinematography. The story is crafted nicely, keeping in the spirit James Thurber’s original short story while still turning into it’s own thing. The humor is also unique and consistent, because we have here a load of players who are gifted comic performers who usually go over the top, but have done something different here.
Kristen Wiig of Bridesmaids takes a break from her atypical whacky characters in favor of a more honest performance. Adam Scott plays the obnoxious transition manager at Life magazine and his scenes were funny and it made me wish he were doing more screen work. Sean Penn’s performance as famed photojournalist Sean O’Connell gave us more to look forward to as the movie went forward. Comedian Patton Oswalt made hilarious little interludes throughout the film as Walter’s representative at eHarmony.
Ben Still is the whole show though. He can be hit or miss for me when it comes to his acting. I think he’s a talented director (Tropic Thunder being my favorite of his directorial work), but his comic acting can be grating at times. As Walter Mitty, He throws all that by the wayside and plays an ordinary man capable of extraordinary things. Watching his journey was a joy to watch and it felt like we were along for the ride instead of being casual viewers.
I don’t get it. I truly do not get why people did not like this movie more. I understand that it doesn’t fully follow Thurber’s original work or that it’s not exactly a comedy or that it’s predictable or boring or hokey. I get that and I think those are kind of iffy excuses. In adaptation (particularly of a short story that doesn’t fit a screen format) as long as you keep in tune with the spirit of the story, which I think this does. Is it predictable? Yeah, a little bit, but that’s part of the fun is figuring out what’s going to happen. It sets up a puzzle for the audience that you want to solve.
I loved The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. I was never bored and didn’t want to depart from the adventure Stiller and co. had crafted. It’s intriguing to not be boring, funny enough to not be overdone, and filled with shots that make you gasp at the wonder. Is the message a bit obvious? Yeah, but embracing life is something I believe we tend to forget in our day-to-day life. I think movies like this remind us of what we tend to forget at our office jobs and classrooms. Will people remember it in 5 years or so? Maybe not, but for now, I think people should enjoy and embrace it before it’s gone.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is still playing at Worcester Showcase North, Regal Westborough and Solomon Pond Cinemas and pretty much everywhere that’s playing new movies.