Movie Review: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

I’ll be honest: I didn’t want to like Ben Stiller’s remake of the Danny Kaye classic. Danny Kaye is awesome. What was Zoolander doing screwing around with good movies? (I like Zoolander a fair bit, but it’s a far cry from Danny Kaye.) Still, it was a remake of a movie I really enjoyed, and sometimes you can’t resist a good train wreck, so when I had the chance to see the film, my hesitations weren’t enough to keep me from watching it.

And at first, I was only looking for reasons to dislike it.

That’s a really hard spot for a movie to dig itself out of. When your audience is primed to find fault, then it’s almost always an easy enough task to give them what they’re looking for. With that as a prelude . . .

I really enjoyed this movie. 7/10 stars. Is it the best movie EVAR? No. But it’s very solid family-friendly entertainment that keeps you laughing and shows you plenty of very well shot visuals. The story fits together quite well, and it’s actually a lot of fun.

Part of this is due to the fact that, as with the original, they took the core of Thurber’s short story (about a daydreaming everyman) and added to it. With Kaye, they added a spy story. With Zoolander (I suppose I ought to start calling him Stiller), they inserted the character into the role of a romantic comedy. Stiller works for LIFE Magazine, and he’s about to be laid off. He has to find a famous photographer to potentially save his job. (That’s a clumsy overview, but it’ll work for now.)

So they didn’t really just copy the original movie. They did something different with it. That’s a great sign of a hopefully successful adaptation right there. Still, it appears that my opinion of the film isn’t one shared by most reviewers. (It’s got a 54/100 on Metacritic, for example.) I liked it for its good clean fun, for the way the daydreams foreshadow the action of the movie. Yes, it’s a film with a Message, and at times they hammer that Message a bit too hard, but I can’t really fault it for it. In many ways, it’s a movie that matches its main character more because of that Message. (And that’s all the M’s I’ll use for a while. Sorry about that.)

Anyway. It’s worth a watch, if you’ve been avoiding it. Perhaps I went lighter on it because I was expecting Awful. Then again, it’s got a 7.4 on IMDB, so clearly I’m not the only one who enjoyed it. Anyone else out there seen it? What did you think?

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