Reimagining the “Walter Mitty” story for 2013 must have seemed like a great idea to Ben Stiller. He directs and acts in the leading role. Surprisingly, I really enjoyed it, although I am not a Ben Stiller fan.
Walter works for Life magazine. It is under threat of closure from new owners. He zones out, picturing himself in adventurous situations and places, to combat a drab reality.
We’re a long way away from the James Thurber story or the 1947 Danny Kaye movie. Thurber disliked the changes made to his story in that movie so he would have hated this. But he’s been dead since 1961 so he probably doesn’t have an opinion. Here’s that story:
The less you know about the plot going in, the better off you are. There are superb locations, adventurous situations and really good performances from Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn. Kathryn Hahn is funny and moving as Walter’s sister, Odessa.
Patton Oswalt and Olafur Darri Olafsson have super comic scenes at key moments.
It’s all very entertaining and the leaps from New York office to fast-paced foreign travel felt very charming and lovely, to me.
If you’re a dreamer, you’ll enjoy this much more than those who like their films to be more authentic. A taste for the South American genre of magical realism will permit you to suspend disbelief, at key moments.
The soundtrack and script are good, too.
“Walter Mitty” was a great pleasure for most of those watching it at Stratford East Picturehouse. I am told most critics don’t like it.
But I bet you will.