The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013)

Sometimes, we all escape into our heads. With Walter, he escapes into a fantasy world filled with things he would never actually do and people he doesn't have the gumpshin to actually converse with. Given the setup for his character, we might expect small steps, but we actually get  unrealistically large leaps. The problem with that is that we are treated to lots of daydreams of stuff he hasn't and won't ever do so frequently at first that it is still hard to distinguish what is supposed to actually be happening and what is not.

I don't really like Ben Stiller. Am I alone in that? I can't possibly be. I thought Zoolander was a massive waste of time and that thing with the ping pong balls was a cry for help. In this role, however, he manages to bring his odd sense of reality to a relatively normal character. Some of his choices raise more questions than they answer, but the essence of the character remains the same - a man who takes pride in his work and will not allow a blemish to end his career.

Speaking of careers and business, the product placement could not be more overt. He works for Life magazine, and they repeat the Life motto about a hundred times. The problem is, the motto is not particularly snappy, and I had never heard the damn thing before, even though I have seen profiles of Life and leafed through more than a few issues in my day. And that's just one sponsor. eHarmony sponsored a whole person - Patton Oswalt. The only reason he has a role in this movie is mostly as a voice on the phone as an eHarmony customer representative.

Kristen Wiig is here as a live person without sponsorship. She is a recent hire at Life, and Ben has a crush on her. After Ben misplaces a critical picture, he is sufficiently motivated to talk to her and enlist her aid to try to find Sean Penn, who plays a photographer. Kristen does a very good job in a serious role, and that was a pleasant surprise. Her character is a bit on the flimsy side, though. Pretty much any of the real world characters are.

Adam Scott plays a jerk. With that beard, he does a fine job. What I find is that these movies inevitably have a jerk who has a comment about everything and who will suddenly become tongue-tied when the hero finally stands up to him. I've met jerks, and they are hard to stump. I'm not saying it's impossible, but when a low-level employee storms into a power meeting, the dynamic does not automatically alter.

Direction was good
Story was flimsy
Acting was good
Dialog was okay
Editing was okay



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