Feel-good movies typically entail obvious manipulation and cheap attempts at stirring emotions. I dislike most of them for that reason. They’re void of quality, character and entertainment. However, every once in a while, one comes along with true merit. After some fantastic trailers, I got my hopes up a little for Ben Stiller’s new adaptation of ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’. Luckily, I walked away from the press screening with a huge smile of satisfaction, proud to list it as one of my very favorite films of 2013.
At the end of each year, as awards season revs up, it’s somewhat exhausting to watch so many downer “important” films. While those titles may have the ability to amaze, it’s refreshing to see something that appeals more to the senses and heart than just the conscience and mind. ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ isn’t groundbreaking, but it’s highly imaginative. It thrives from the unconventional nature of its boundary-less story.
Walter Mitty (Stiller) is a dreamer. He’s a good man, but he daydreams about the great man that he wishes he was. He fantasizes about wild adventures, saving the day and getting the girl (Kristen Wiig). Our PG story begins on what appears to be any average uneventful day. Walter wakes up, pays his bills and goes to work, along the way getting swept off into mini-adventures of the mind. Upon arriving at his seemingly mundane job as the manager of all photo negatives at Life magazine, he learns that the company has been acquired by another and that all employees will lose their jobs. The final issue’s cover will feature a “masterpiece” photo shot by an iconic and mysterious photographer (Sean Penn) who cannot be tracked down – but the negative for that image is missing from the incoming slide deck. With an opportunity to do the type of thing that he only dreams about, Walter heads off on an adventure much grander than anything his imagination can conjure.
‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ isn’t a game-changing motion picture, but it’s a small aesthetic masterpiece nonetheless. We don’t get enough of these films any more. The story and characters are easy to connect with, the movie is visually pleasing, and it’s absolutely likeable. ‘Walter Mitty’ may not be generating any Oscar buzz right now, but for what it’s worth, the film will definitely be in my Top 5 of 2013.