IN CINEMAS NOW
RUNNING TIME: 112 min
REVIEWED BY: Dr Lenera, Official HCF Critic
Walter Mitty is an employee at Life magazine who frequently daydreams of fantastic adventures which usually involving him rescuing his co-worker Cheryl Melhoff, with whom he is in love. Photojournalist Sean O’Connell has sent a special photograph that he says captures the’Quintessenc’ of Life magazine and that it should be used for the cover of the magazine’s final issue. Mitty works in the negative assets department, and has never lost a photo in his sixteen years of work at Life magazine, but negative 25 is missing. Using the other negatives as clues, Mitty decides to go in search of Sean O’Connell and find the missing negative….
James Thurber’s blackly comic and actually pretty dark short story Walter Mitty could be expanded into a really strong film, but this confused fluff masquerading as something more profound certainly isn’t it, and isn’t even as good as the 1947 musical version [actually Brazil is in some respects closer to the tone of the story], which at least was entertaining. This one sometimes comes across as more of an extended advertisement for Eharmony than anything else, while the insidious product placement throughout is distracting. Only the first third remotely resembles the supposed source material, though the fantasy sequences are often hampered by shoddy editing and CGI, while the so-called ‘comedy’ in the real world mostly falls flat. After a while, it all turns into a kind of New Agey adventure story whose message might very well be that you should live life to the fullest and enjoy every moment, but seemed to me more like ‘if you do crazy life-threatening stuff you’ll get your girl’, hardly a good message to present to the viewing public.
The photography of Greenland, Iceland and the Himalayas is striking and a few moments do contain some of the magic that the whole thing seems to be half-heartedly striving for, but as many bits don’t work whatsoever, like a horrid Benjamin Button gag, though for most of the time the film isn’t unpleasant, just bland and muddled. The film’s nostalgia for When Times Were Better would be more pleasing if Stiller and scriptwriter Steve Conrad hadn’t so thoroughly destroyed a literary classic and created something so empty and disjointed. I will say that the final shot brought a smile even to my mouth, but this is generally a major failure and, not to mention, a travesty of Sturber.