Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty.
Ben Stiller as Walter Mitty.

Life’s What You Make It
Rating: ****

He’s a simpleton, this Walter Mitty. He has been working as a Negative Asset Manager at Life magazine for 16 years when news spreads that the magazine is moving online (I’m told that Life ceased publication in 2007).

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty appealed to me, because I too am a daydreamer. I’ve defused bombs and jumped off airplanes while Walter Mitty travels mountains, saves dogs and gets into a Hancock-like fight sequence. While the film has enough “awww” moments, Stiller has incorporated quirky situational humour such as pointing out directions with two Afghani mountain guides or even a well-imagined piece in the middle of the Icelandic sea that involves a shark.

Kristen Wiig – what a wonderful actress she is turning out to be. For comedians like her and even Steve Carell, the comedy drama genre is the true calling. I wouldn’t probably say the same about the bearded Adam Scott, who clearly does not know his character well, or maybe he’s poorly written.

While the daydreams are presented as larger-than-life moments, the scenes where Mitty embraces the pleasures of life are presented in a simple yet fulfilling way. The joy in his eyes as he skateboards across beautiful Icelandic landscapes, or while trekking the Afghani hills – everything appears beautiful when he really lives it. As Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn) says “I’m not gonna let the camera distract me. I’m just gonna enjoy this moment.”

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty comes with minute flaws. How does he just fly to Greenland without visa? How can he receive calls when he’s 18,000 feet about sea level? And yes, the character of Todd Maher (Patton Oswalt) just doesn’t sound like any other online dating call center representative. If you wanna know how they usually sound, here’s a clue – boring.

The film also features a different motto for Life magazine. One which I cannot forget:
“To see the world, things dangerous to come to, to see behind walls,
draw closer, to find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life.”

Review: Friends With Kids

Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt in Friends with Kids.

Where Is This Going?

Rating: *

In Friends with Kids, a title similar to last year’s Friends with Benefits, writer-director and actress Jennifer Westfeldt tries to juggle several mundane characters and inane situations, thinking it would resemble a Lawrence Kasdan film, in this case, The Big Chill. That’s when I found out that Jake Kasdan is one of the film’s producers. Friends with Kids also stars four actors from Bridesmaids, last year’s hit comedy. So, technically, Friends with Kids is a Bridesmaids reunion.

Adam Scott and Jennifer Westfeldt play the lead roles as two best friends who consummate their friendship for a baby. Mary Kay Place anyone? Then, there are your Bridesmaids stars, Kristen Wiig, Maya Rudolph, Jon Hamm and Chris O’Dowd, who make up for the friends of these friends. Of these, it’s Hamm who lags behind, bringing his Mad Men antics to the table and proving nothing to them or to us.

Just when you think everything is boring, Westfeldt introduces Megan Fox as a possible girlfriend to Scott. As the film progressed, I noticed how much Kasdan’s classic has been ripped to shreds by Westfeldt who tries to drag you to the epicentre of the “friends face-off”. This face-off involves a war of words that ends with the scene, and continues in another scene, in another setting.

Wiig, Hamm and Rudolph are truly the auteurs of the film. You saw them have fun in Bridesmaids and you thought they would do the same. Get ready to be disappointed.