By William Wolf

NEW YORK FILM FESTIVAL 2013--THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY  Send This Review to a Friend

All right, so Ben Stiller isn’t Danny Kaye, whose exuberant role in the musical based on the James Thurber short story remains as an entertainment highlight. But on its own terms this version, which Stiller directed and stars in and was showcased at the 2013 New York Film Festival, is far too tame to produce much excitement. To be fair it is rather sweet and Stiller has nice-guy appeal, but there isn’t really much to justify another Mitty expedition.

Mitty, as a photo editor for Life Magazine in the screenplay by Steve Conrad, is attracted to a co-worker played by Kristen Wiig, yet he is too shy to go after her. Not in his daydreams, when he imagines adventures in which he saves her life.

The plot twists and turns around a lost negative that is very important, because the photo is supposed to be the last cover on Life magazine before the publication goes digital. The negative, which Mitty has lost, had been given him by a master photographer (Sean Penn), and Mitty sets out roaming the world to locate the photographer.

Such journeys must inevitably lead to self-discovery, as is the case here, and of course, fresh possibilities with the woman of his dreams. The film is laced with humor and there are some exquisite scenic moments. Also, Shirley MacLaine brightens the story as Mitty’s mother.

The plot is interesting as a lament for publications going digital in this new age, thereby up to date. But while easy viewing, “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” lacks enough pizzazz to make it special. A Twentieth Century Fox release. Posted November 18, 2013.

  

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