For my second post, since I have gathered incredible amounts of fame and glory from the first one, I am going to review a movie that I believe the critics got wrong. That movie, dear friends and readers alike, is….
If someone were to ask me which movie I differ with critics most, I would answer with this movie.
Sitting at a solid if underwhelming 50% on Rotten Tomatoes and 54% on Metacritic, this movie stars and is directed by Ben Stiller.
The idea is that Walter Mitty is a guy who works for Life Magazine and is currently looking for love. Trouble is, he’s pretty shy. So shy in fact that he struggles hitting a “wink” button on an online dating website. He also struggles with the fact that his life hasn’t really measured up to much, and this leads to him having next to nothing filled out on his online dating profile.
But all that is about to change.
With a solid supporting cast that includes Kristin Wiig as the divorced love interest, Adam Scott as the dickhead merging boss, Sean Penn as the mysterious if talented photographer, Shirley McLaine and Kathryn Hahn as the mom and sister, and Patton Oswalt as the dating profile assistant who calls him multiple times, urging him to complete his profile.
An interesting aspect of this movie that is both visually interesting and striking to the story itself is that Walter Mitty is prone to day dreams. Instead of living real adventures, he plays them out in his head, with vivid detail, which is acted out on screen.
This scene, for example, is an imagination of Walter that he has created in his own head of him being some kind of ice climber, which ends in him talking of his adventures and exploits to Cheryl Melhoff (Kristin Wiig).
An entire fight/action scene is played out on screen, where Walter and Ted Hendricks (Adam Scott) fight over a stretchy action figure.
Here we have a bit more of a subtle day-dream, as the camera pans past the images of Life Magazine that Walter has helped create, in which he includes one of his imagined adventures as a cover photo.
Another chief complaint that I have read time and again is that the dialogue in this movie isn’t realistic. Specifically, that the boss character (Adam Scott) is entirely too dickish to Walter, and that that kind of behavior wouldn’t be tolerated in the professional world. For instance, Hendricks calls out Walter for his many day dreams that occur during work, sarcastically calling him Major Tom, which actually plays out later in the film.
While the over-the-top dickishness can be seen as a flaw, I think it is one of the top plot points of the movie. Walter sets out to prove everyone wrong, including himself, and in doing so he goes on many real adventures.
With this in mind, the best part about this movie was the cinematography, and you can thank none other than Stuart Dryburgh for this.
Just look at some of these scenes:
(This one’s a real adventure)
The words superimposed in the image represent Walter’s writing in his travel journal, of which he can finally fill out after years of sitting in storage.
This image, which I have scene recreated multiple times, is one of the best.
This one includes Sean Penn’s character Sean O’Connell, seemingly asking Walter with two fingers to come along on a real adventure.
I’ll end this long-ish post with this thought: you’ll be hard-pressed to find a movie that is as beautifully shot, as seamlessly transitioned (who knew Ben Stiller had some directing chops too), or as thoughtfully imagined (or re-imagined, I suppose) as this one.
While I usually try to stay away from totally giving away the plot in my reviews, I will say that I actually believe the denouement in this one gives the audience a bit of a twist, and that is just another strong aspect of it that I admire.
Final Score: 8.5/10