The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film with so much potential squandered for the sake of a buck using blatant in-movie advertising but instead of furthering the story, they only served to take one out of the film despite some good performances, particularly Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig, with honorable mention for Adam Scott for playing one of the biggest/best cinematic douchebag.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty
Genre(s): Drama, Comedy
Fox | PG – 114 min. – $39.99 | April 15, 2014
THE MOVIE – 3.25/5
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty centers on… Walter Mitty (BEN STILLER), a boring schmuck living in a stark apartment, spends his mornings calculating expenses and works in a dank basement for Time Life Magazine developing negatives for use in the publications. He’s also lonely with a crush on co-worker Cheryl (KRISTEN WIIG) and rather than talking to her in person, is subscribed to e-Harmony and tries his luck communicating via winks but because his profile is blank, as explained by the friendly e-Harmony representative, is unable to do so; he’s been nowhere and done nothing.
His work life is also in jeopardy as the company plans to move to online publication which means major downsizing. Running the transition is the film’s generic asshole, Ted Hendricks (ADAM SCOTT), a Class-A douchebag who is basically a grown up bully, though thanks to Walter’s tendencies to “zone out”, where upon he fantasizes various scenarios to be an adventurous or brave guy to Cheryl, he’s an easy target, oblivious to his surroundings.
One day Walter receives the latest set of photos from a popular, insightful and elusive photographer named Sean O’Connell and in a telegram sent to the Time-Life management, wants one particular photo, #25, to be used for the final cover. Problem is: photo 25 is missing and with his job on the line, not to mention personal integrity, Walter becomes obsessed with finding it and turning it in to the d-bag before the final issue is set to print. This obsession leads him on a journey to find Sean in the hopes to get photo 25, taking Walter from Greenland to Iceland to Afghanistan, all the while meeting an interesting cast of characters.
Alright, getting down to the meat of Walter Mitty, I didn’t hate it and full acknowledge there is some charm to it, but problem for me was, it was pretty darn dull during the first half while the second half does redeem itself with beautiful on-location shoots (save for Afghanistan of course) and yet thanks to the film’s obnoxious use of product placement, which began literally within the first 5-minutes with Walter calling e-Harmony and the guy on the other end, who enters in and out throughout, more or less makes a pitch for the company. But it’s not just e-Harmony but even Papa John’s gets in on the fun, inserted into Walter’s background working there. There are other ad placements but those are the two most egregious ones and anytime they crop their corporate heads, it immediately took me out of the film…
Yes, it was that big of a deal that it almost ruined what could’ve otherwise been a stellar drama.
Outside of that, however, the performances are most strong led way by Ben Stiller showing his comedic and dramatic sides in one film to Kristen Wiig playing a single mother who, for whatever reason, is attracted to what I assume is a socially awkward Walter, though she’s good in the role and nice to her play it straight (versus her part in the unfunny Anchorman 2). For his brief appearance, Sean Penn is solid even if he’s only in it for a mere 5 minutes.
Directed, and produced, by Ben Stiller, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is hardly a bad movie but hardly perfect or even inspirational if only for the ham-fest ad placements, the most egregious being for e-Harmony who must have given the production a thick check because the customer service guy plays an integral part in the plot.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 2.75/5
This release comes with a glossy and reflective slip cover. Inside the case is a standard DVD Copy and a redemption code for the UltraViolet Digital Copy.
Deleted, Extended and Alternate Scenes (TRT 15:45; HD) contains scenes trimmed or removed and although fun to view, would not have added much, if anything, to the plot…
The next set of behind the scenes featurettes are short but tries to give glimpses at different aspects of the film:
The History of Walter Mitty (3:39; HD) is a basic rundown on the short story the movie is based upon and translating it to feature film.
The Look of Life (5:01; HD) looks at the production design of LIFE Magazine and how it plays into the character and story threads.
That’s a Shark (5:57; HD) centers on the shark scene and how it was created via CGI as well as filming in the Icelandic ocean.
The Music of Walter Mitty (4:01; HD) is about the score created by Theodore Shapiro.
Icelandic Adventure (3:26; HD) further delves into the filming in Iceland.
Nordic Casting (3:51; HD) looks at the casting process for some unique characters.
Titles of Walter Mitty (2:49; HD) is a short featurette examining how the title card was done.
Sights and Sounds of Production (TRT 5:11; HD) is split into two parts: “Skateboarding Through Iceland” and “Ted-Walter Fight” and is a fly on the wall type feature showing the process and rehearsals into these two scenes.
Pre-Viz (4:15; HD) is the pre-visualization on the “Ted-Walter” fight scene.
Also included is a Pre-Viz (4:15; HD) sequence of the “Ted-Walter” fight, a Gallery of Reference Photography, a Music Video (4:22; HD) for “Stay Alive” by Jose Gonzalez and last the Theatrical Trailer (1:55; HD).
VIDEO – 4.5/5
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty travels around the world and arrives on Blu-ray presented in its original 2.40 widescreen aspect ratio and a 1080p high-definition transfer. The picture looks good throughout with sharp detail levels and colors are excellent with an especial pop during Mitty’s fantasy sequences.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
The movie includes a robust 7.1 channel DTS-HD Master Audio track which shows off quite well as the film features a variety of elements from the quieter, dialogue-driven moments to the more intense adventurous ones such as Mitty’s leap off a helicopter into the ocean trying to get on board a boat; this scene the waves crashing all around allows the rear channels to flex their muscles… or some sort of workout clichéd line you like.
OVERALL – 3.0/5
Overall, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a film with so much potential squandered for the sake of a buck using blatant in-movie advertising but instead of furthering the story, they only served to take one out of the film despite some good performances, particularly Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig, with honorable mention for Adam Scott for playing one of the biggest/best cinematic douchebag, second perhaps only to Bill Paxton’s Chet Donnelly. As far as the Blu-ray is concerned, the audio and video offer exceptional transfers while the features, albeit numerous, are more or less fluff.
Brian Oliver, The Movieman
Check out some more screen caps by going to page 2. Please note, these do contain spoilers.