Imagination is the driving force behind all art, and yet it is a very difficult process to capture. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is one of the few films that has managed to tap into the human imagination in such an honest heartfelt way. On an initial look The Secret Life of Walter Mitty seems like a film that is a bad idea. It’s a remake of a 1947 film, it’s filled to the brim with product placement, and it’s aggressively earnest. Yet somehow despite all odds this ended up being one of the most enjoyable heartwarming film experiences I’ve had in a long time.
The plot of the film is much more modernized and differs vastly from the original film. Bringing Walter Mitty into the world of Life magazine fits the plot well, and helps to establish the character. The idea of new web based media phasing out the hardcopy magazine is an element entrenched in the pop culture zeitgeist and is a very real world phenomenon. It’s a great element to anchor the story upon, and makes this remake well worth its existence. Mitty feels like a very real, very defeated character whom is endlessly relatable and creative. Ben Stiller knocks his performance out of the park and its one of his most restrained performances. The rest of the cast is perfect as well, with Adam Scott, Kristen Wiig, and Patton Oswalt delivering stellar supporting roles. Wiig deserves particular praise as she is playing a character that in any other movie would be a wooden fantasy woman, devoid of passion and life. Somehow Wiig manages to infuse life, and reliability into her brief but pivotal role in the story.
One of the best parts of this film is its stellar cinematography, and outstanding soundtrack. Any film that features David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” blasting in Greenland deserves unending praise. Each song chosen truly captures the spirit of the film, and leaves the viewer very emotional. A great soundtrack is something few films have, but I’m happy to say The Secret Life of Walter Mitty has an outstanding one. Coupled with the great songs, are the gorgeous visuals. Whether it’s the unique mindscape of Mitty’s imaginations, or the lush beauty of the Iceland countryside every moment in …Walter Mitty left a lasting impression. The visuals are one of the strongest components of the film, and seeing it in true HD is a must.
The biggest criticism’s this movie has received is in relation to its product placement, and yet the products in this film are inserted in a very natural real way. Papa Johns is not in the movie solely as a means to get you to buy their pizza. Papa John’s represents Walter’s shattered dreams, and the cold reality of adulthood. When Cinnabon is revealed near the climax of the film it’s realistic, as what else would you be eating in a Los Angeles airport. The product placement doesn’t take you out of the film; it actually brings you into the reality of it. The world feels real, and concrete. The other criticism this movie will receive is its earnestness. Very few films try to be truly uplifting because in a cynical world it’s very difficult to pull off. Yet again The Secret Life of Walter Mitty succeeds in making a truly heartfelt movie, that puts it right up there with Joe Versus The Volcano, and Forrest Gump.
Overall you owe it to yourself to watch this movie. It is truly heartwarming, inspiring, and is an amazing visual spectacle. The characters are fleshed out and well realized, the plot is magnificent, and asides from one brief Benjamin Button sketch the film captures the wonder of imagination. This movie will be certain to bring a smile on your face, as long as you don’t go in with a cynical mind.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty premieres on Saturday, 09.20 at 8:00pm ET. It will air throughout the month on HBO, HBO2 and HBO On Demand. It can also be found on HBOGO after the 20th.