Ben Stiller directs and stars in a vibrant mid-life crisis movie that could prove too cute for its own good.
Release date: December 26, 2013.
The cast: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn, Shirley MacLaine, Patton Oswalt.
The pitch: The monotony of a desk job at Life Magazine leaves Walter Mitty (Stiller) playing out elaborate fantasies in his own head, notably an office romance with fellow worker Cheryl (Wiig) and a life of raw adventure. After Mitty’s job is threatened it’s goodbye hallway daydreaming and hello real world escapades (jumping into/out of helicopters).
The buzz: Originally based on a short story of the same name by James Thurber, an adaptation has been in development for almost 20 years. Indecision has moved the project from studio to studio and Gore Verbinski, Steven Spielberg and Mark Waters have all at some stage been attached to direct. In a move away from major comedy franchises, Stiller has found himself in an enviable position as director and lead of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Anticipation is high.
Reasons this could be good: Stiller looks the part as a slightly eccentric individual slouching through the office into a fantasy world and a contemplative role could garner his best 'serious' performance yet. From the cold ice blues and dove greys of the office interiors to Mitty flinging men through a series of windows, Stuart Dryburgh’s cinematography looks striking and we’re eager to see more.
Reasons this could be bad: When Stiller stars there is the imminent threat of Frat Pack cameos. Although a welcome addition to sarcastic comedy, spotting Owen Wilson or Jack Black lurking in Mitty’s office can only result in eye rolls. The trailer is also a rather festive affair (in case you missed it, the word CHRISTMAS fills the screen approximately once every minute) so expect plenty of soppy seasonal good cheer.
Soundtrack: The haunting track 'Dirty Paws' from Of Monsters and Men accompanies the trailer, its delicate acoustic a neat tie-in to the film's shooting location, Iceland, where the band originates from.
Best bit: 0:37-0:46 Our first introduction to Mitty’s fantasy world, and Stiller’s Arctic explorer crashing into the hallway doesn’t disappoint. However, the sneering office bullies that break Mitty’s trance could prove tedious.
The verdict: Staring into space is inevitable during the daily grind, but rarely is daydreaming this evocatively captured. Sean Penn’s beckoning photograph and Kristen Wiig’s office darling offer promising support and Stiller’s lead turn looks to a performance curious enough to interrupt Christmas leftovers this winter.