As is often the case, this is not a review, it is just a few of my random thoughts on a movie.
Having missed a secret screening and a preview screening of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty I wasn’t sure if I was going to bother seeing it. I am not a fan of Ben Stiller’s movies and can honestly say Reality Bites (1994) and Tropic Thunder (2008) are the only two of his I have really enjoyed watching (and that I have chosen to see more than once), interestingly they are both movies he directed and appeared in, so maybe I shouldn’t have been too surprised by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. But, I really was pleasantly surprised by it, in fact I loved it. After all if an actor like Adam Sandler whose films I really dislike can make a movie like Punch-Drunk Love (2002) why can’t Ben Stiller who I normally just find a little annoying and not very funny make a really good film? If you are not convinced by Stiller, Kristen Wiig is always excellent and worth watching as is Shirley MacLaine even in a small part.
On his Matineecast podcast Ryan always does an “other side” movie. Once he and his guest have talked about a new release they each pick a companion movie. I find myself increasingly thinking about companion movies as I am watching new films these days, possibly because it was fresh in my mind from watching it over Christmas, but I believe Walter Mitty has a perfect “other side”: Billy Wilder’s The Apartment starring Jack Lemmon and Shirley MacLaine (who also appears in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty playing Walter’s mom). Two uplifting stories of hope told through downtrodden people who are only downtrodden because they have let themselves get that way. Characters who find a better life because they choose to, its not a new idea, but it’s a good one.
As well as enjoying the movie, I was also taken with the giant LIFE magazine covers that decorate the walls of the publishers offices and would love a couple of them to hang on my walls at home. Clearly the Walter as an astronaut was a fake (based on a real cover of John Glenn) but it actually turns out most of the covers were fake, as described in the current online incarnation of the magazine: “the majority of the LIFE covers one sees in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty were never covers at all. The pictures on the covers in this gallery, for example — the launch of Apollo 11; Jayne Mansfield luxuriating in a swimming pool; a theater audience watching the first-ever 3-D feature-length film — are, indisputably, classic LIFE images. But none of them ever graced the cover of LIFE magazine.” you can read the original article HERE.
If you haven’t already take a look at the movie, you may be pleasantly surprised like me.