Blatant Commercialism Can’t Sink Sweet Walter Mitty
- Wednesday, December 25, 2013
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Rating: PG for some crude comments, language and action violence
Run Time: 114 min.
Director: Ben Stiller
Cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt, Adrian Martinez, Kathryn Hahn
At last: a holiday movie for the whole family that’s not animated.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, based on a James Thurber short story and adapted by Steve Conrad (The Pursuit of Happyness, The Weather Man), deals with serious themes but manages to stay light enough on its feet that any moments of heavy-handedness are forgivable. It’s a comedy, but an earnest one, and it takes seriously the slogan of the place where Walter Mitty (Ben Stiller, Tropic Thunder) works as a negative asset manager: "To find each other and to feel. That is the purpose of life."
Walter is, by some estimations, boring. He’s just turned 42, but his life needs a jump-start. When he’s not investigating his online dating profile, he spends his time analyzing and tracking photos for Life magazine. But Walter’s steady day-to-day existence is about to be turned upside down: ownership at the magazine has just changed hands, and the new bean-counters are ending the print edition of Life, which will publish online-only in the future. The employees are all worried about their jobs, and Walter’s recently installed boss, Ted (Adam Driver, Frances Ha), has tasked Walter with locating a missing photo by the magazine’s roving star photographer, Sean O’Connell (Sean Penn, Tree of Life), for the magazine’s final print issue.
It’s all enough to jolt Walter out of daydreams in which he imagines himself leaping from tall buildings, rescuing women and animals, and being the hero he’s always imagined he could be. Instead, his human contact in the real world is limited—and the very definition of ordinary. Outside of work, he stays in touch with him mom (Shirley MacLaine, In Her Shoes) and sister (Kathryn Hahn, Our Idiot Brother), but his closest acquaintance seems to be Todd (Patton Oswalt, Ratatouille), the eHarmony representative assigned to Walter’s account. Todd tries to help Walter connect online with Cheryl (Kristen Wiig, Bridesmaids), a co-worker with an eHarmony account, by encouraging Walter to list all the exciting places Walter’s been, and all the fun things he’s done in life, in his profile.
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