Ben Stiller is back! Yes the man who brought us Zoolander and Tropic Thunder has directed a film called "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty". Stiller also stars in it as the title character—a guy who works at Life Magazine on the eve of downsizing, and suffers from a little too much daydreaming and not enough actual life living.
This film has three big things going against it:
1. Ben Stiller: I personally really like Ben Stiller, but every time the guy tries to do a semi-serious movie or a drama, people just rail on him. Yes, Zoolander was funny, but can't Stiller ever try to make a serious film without people dogging on him? "There aren't many laughs," critics moan, but that is the point—he wanted to make a serious film with some funny moments, not a hilarious movie with a couple of heartfelt scenes.
2. Feel Good Movie: I don't what the problem is with our society lately, but it seems that whenever a "feel good" movie hits the theatres or the DVD shelves, people are bent on knocking it. This movie is one long "life your life" film, similar to Forrest Gump or Benjamin Button—so if you liked those films, then you will probably like this film too.
3. Based On A Book (or Story): One of the biggest complaints about the movie was that it was not as funny as the original story, not as authentic as the original story—the original short story that was published in the New Yorker magazine in 1939. If you can find twenty people who have read that short story, then that is more than I could find—about twenty more in fact. Just a quick question: have you ever seen a movie that was better than the book? Ever? It is pretty rare indeed. Just enjoy the film for what it is.
So what is it? No spoilers, but as far as romantic-comedy-dramas go, this one was a home run for me. Stiller winds up on an adventure that takes him literally all over the world, and there is some mystery in the script as well. I thoroughly enjoyed it—the story is outrageous, but that is the point of the film, and for that reason, I give Stiller credit for going "all out" to make a big, wide, loud film. Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine and Sean Penn are terrific. (Sean Penn is always terrific in every film, from Mystic River to Fast Times At Ridgemont High. Dude!)
If you are looking for a "feel good" movie with some great cinematography of Greenland and Iceland, and some inspiration about rolling with the punches and living an interesting life, I highly recommend this film.