Thursday, 26 December 2013
REVIEW-THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY
There's Something About Mitty.
114 Minutes. Starring: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Kathryn Hahn & Sean Penn. Director: Ben Stiller.
Into the wild Ben Stiller goes. Straight from the cells of a 'New Yorker' strip to the legendary pages of 'Life' magazine. Off the beaten track from the directors chair to Academy consideration, Stiller gives us another quirky outing to his catalog that toes the independent line between mainstream and expressive. Sure the formidable, family franchise 'Meet The Parents' is this Godfocker's trilogy and meat and potatoes, but for every 'Zoolander', there's a 'Greenberg' and now via Greenland and Iceland, 'Red Hour Ben' takes a red eye across the world to traverse new ground and give every idealistic traveler the inspiration to truly make their crazy dreams a reality. It's influence like this that make this more than just the zoned out dream world of wanderlust. A beautiful six minute commercial break trailer led by Freddie Mercury's Queen cries of "is this real life, is this just fantasy' truly says it all in noteworthy, 'Bohemian Rhaposdy' form and as Ben looks to make his own 'Forrest Gump' story, his run past the classic 'Life' magazine billboard covers of Martin Luther King Jnr, JFK, John Lennon and Muhammad Ali truly has the makings of something iconic like the moon-landing or Marilyn Monroe. Now read all about it, we have the makings of a new hero in the form of the funny every-man. Behind that cold-steel briefcase and beige bland jacket and tie is the real, all worldly man beneath the white-collar stacks and sheets of office work. Now are you ready to make this break? This is a real shift from 9-5 to alive, no more work and all play. Still is there ambition and substance behind this style or is it all just the makings of dreams?
The life and times of Walter Mitty is a photo journalists travel journal across the landscape of life that offers more for it's viewers to read into. This short story by James Thurber from 1939 is given the long player treatment after it was acknowledged as a classic of American literature after appearing in the massive magazine 'The New Yorker'. 'Mittyesque' may as well be a dictionary term for those who daydream of wild heroics they never actually put into real effect. This story has such a legacy it's already been made into a film once and legends like Spielberg and Ron Howard almost had a go at directing like Jim Carrey and Ben's friend and 'Hutch' to his 'Starsky' running mate Owen Wilson had starring. Still, now it's Stiller's turn as he looks to the pages of 'Time' chasing 'Life' magazine to give even more lasting legacy to the legend of newsstands that like their product are tragically dying out thanks to unfortunately this very form of digital media. Still, as impressive as the truly special effects are in this evocative piece of cinemas this story is at it's most sweet and simple when it's exactly that. Sure concrete skateboarding surfing through the streams of yellow from taxi cabs in lower Manhattan while fighting over a fully extended Stretch Armstrong doll, fully featured with more twisting facial expressions is truly incredible like all the other insights into the imagination of our Walt, but it's the soaring scenes of the worlds real wonders which look and speak for themselves without a hint of CG or Photoshop. Backed up by a sublime soundtrack that truly 'Wakes Up' the senses from Arcade Fire to the ground control to major Tom, 'Space Oddities' of the original weird and wonderful Ziggy Stardust himself, David Bowie, everything about this film has the makings of a lasting classic and Stiller's road to true greatness.
Now there's a few sedate bumps but that's what makes this journey that much more fulfilling, as Stiller flies and skateboards through a rugged and raw movie that's truly his.The 'Frat Pack' 'Night At The Museum' exhibit star has already proved he can direct with depths in Jim Carrey's dark comedy spark-plug of 'The Cable Guy', like his own 'Zoolander' and 'Tropic Thunder' greatest hits, but here he proves he can truly dream up greatness from a seating position too. With the camera on himself he also shows how he is still one of today's most followed leading men, especially in comedies as he owns the Boxing Day season previously inhabited by the crowd-drawing loved likes of Will Smith. Steve Carell hasn't taken his offbeat comedy crown despite the Brick and Minion mortar. This Spanish news-team leader still runs the street and as impeccable he anchors his own beautiful broadcast in what right now is Burgundy's world. With more color and vibrancy, Stiller's subtle but strong skill-set matches the bashful beauty off it's backdrop. As a shy and retiring Mitty who comes out with courage this character development helps the growth of this mans acting game and gain. It's hard not to love this guy and it's impossible not to like him. No matter what 'Family Guy' say about his ears, this guys movies are far from terrible. This one in fact...terrific. The recently underrated comedian assembling 'Tower Heist' and 'The Watch' showed he still had it. This shows he has so much more. More lies behind the eyes of a facial expressive actor who shows that behind the comedy one-liners lies some dark drama , with a punchline of humorous hope giving life to the inspired. Still it's more than just Stiller, himself and Mitty on this road trip.
No longer the 'Bridesmaid', but instead the queen of comedy Kristen Wiig comes off her own 'Anchorman' legend to own this month like her co-star Rose Byrne used to own the trailer reels. With beautiful dyed-hair and a different, dramatic look to her stand-up gags she gives new depth to her range and future. Is there a leading lady more sought after then her right now? More of the fairer sex give this film its grounding and supporting force as legend Shirley MacLaine gives more terrific 'Terms Of Endearment' while 'Anchorman'/'Step Brothers' starlet Kathryn Hahn shows she is still one of the most funniest and underrated ladies in the biz. Fellow 'Step Brothers' star Adam Scott gets a star for effort as he was born to play a grade A douche. On the other end of the line an eHarmony representative phones in some classic comedy like his career work for some dialed up light and warm relief, while on the other side of the world we get a true legend adding his traversed and traveled thoughts to this piece. It literally looks and seems like they found Sean Penn in the middle of nowhere for this discovered addition that is as welcoming and moving as a simple but sublime scene of football skill among the mist and dust off a mountain peak. This is a film that takes it just this high with some of it's most simple pleasures that make even the most death-defying leaps into burning buildings just a spirited aside to the faith of what's real in this world of dreams. This fantasy adventure is no secret anymore even if it is more lovely than it is lasting. It's the hyped eagerly awaited journey that hopes to find it's destination date with Oscar this coming February. Sure, this may not be the "quintessence", but it's quintessentially one of Stiller and the modern, movie mainstreams most refreshing and uplifting efforts in recent years, that will last in favorable young hearts and wandering minds for decades and trips to come. It may not be all a box of chocolates, but it's still so Bubba Gump shrimp sweet. If this positive life soul search for negative 25 is how Ben wants to frame the rest of his career, then run Stiller, run. TIM DAVID HARVEY.