Rhymes With Mitty

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Rhymes With Mitty

James Thurber's original 1939 story might be the ur-text of the 20th Century "Lovable Loser" trope. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty manages to bungle that pedigree to no end.

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Movies like this are the kind that make me reevaluate my life and make me believe I should be doing something more with it. But then again I also have a boring, humdrum job that isn't very fulfilling and leaves me with a lot of time to think. I don't know, maybe Bob's just not the kind of guy to want more out of life.

I get kind of disappointed when I hear that a movie like this doesn't work. I kind of wanted to think it might be an underrated classic that maybe only I would get, but the amount of Product Placement (Which I think is still reserved for Adam Sandler, and the classic example I can think of is Little Nicky and its obvious placement) within the movie makes me sick to my stomach.

I suppose if there was a tactful way of employing product placement, I'd see it and go, "Well, it's not that bad, I suppose." On the other hand, when the movie is trying to give Eharmony a little support, I just get angry (Time to Admit Bias, I was actually told by Eharmony that their algorithm wouldn't work for me and couldn't 'match me with anybody'. I can't decide whether that's a good thing or a bad thing, but if Walter Mitty can get an account while just being 'average', What does that make me?).

I will still see this movie, but now not without a large bit of doubt filling me with the inevitable 'It's okay for what it is', which, for a movie like this and for a development hell history this movie has had, That's not okay.

Great review, Moviebob.

ColaWarVeteran:
Movies like this are the kind that make me reevaluate my life and make me believe I should be doing something more with it. But then again I also have a boring, humdrum job that isn't very fulfilling and leaves me with a lot of time to think. I don't know, maybe Bob's just not the kind of guy to want more out of life.

More likely he thinks that this movie is doing things other movies have done better. A bad movie with a positive message is still a bad movie.

It's an odd story to make into a big-budget movie, considering the whole point in the original short story is that nothing is happening - it's just Walter escaping in his mind from a boring day out with his wife. It seems almost more like you'd want to play it as a kind of slow-motion tragedy, with Walter escaping into his fantasies while his marriage and life are falling apart. You could even throw in job instability in there, just to further the contrast between the more mundane disappointments that characterize his life versus the fantasies he escapes to.

Can't wait to go see Her, looks promising.

I am disappointed that Ben Stiller's directorial debut wasn't that great, this could've been something interesting, but sadly Mitty sits in they grey area between good and bad movies.

So, it's essentially 'it was all a dream' (which is a trope that almost never works well IMO), stretched into an entire film?

Yeah... no.

Pretty shitty so huh Bob?

It's a shame I enjoyed the original story by Thurber and the movie starring Danny Kaye was a childhood favourite when it popped up on weekend daytime TV.

I'm not a big fan of the Stiller movies where he just takes abuse. Seriously though, Bob, come on with the Papa Johns thing. It was founded 30 years ago. Stiller's age doesn't matter, Mitty's does. Apparently there's enough wrong here that you don't need to stretch that far to come up with something.

One reason why movies with product placement don't really bother me is that its already present so much in every day life I don't actively notice or look for it in movies except for a minor "meh"-induced shrug or a "I passed that on the way here, kinda" thought. I think we scream so much about product placement that really we ignore the fact that it is always around us and it creeping into movies is just a by-product of a consumerist society. We pay to be entertained by stories that might take place in a semi-real life setting then complain when real life actually makes its banal appearance.
Sure I like Kevin Smith's world of "my own branding", and Seinfeld's track record for non-consumerist products, but in the end its not a huge concern for me and really shouldn't be a breaking point on whether or not a movie is good or bad.
Hell I worked at Papa Johns as a teenager up through my 20's so I could relate to that very easily as well as moving on to a humdrum shit job in an office with daily fantasies akin to the Family Guy cut-away gags. So a movie that emulates this to any degree would sit well with me. Sorry Bob, we don't all get to live a life of watching movies for a fucking living and have to get our fantastical kicks some other way, especially when most of us have shit jobs that we'd love to ditch for something more exciting, fan-fucking-tastic or even noteworthy.
"We've all been raised on television to believe that one day we'd all be millionaires, and movie gods, and rock stars. But we won't." - Tyler Durden, Fight Club
An apt quote detailing how a lot of us grew up thinking we might be something great, and turned out to be mundane as hell. Thats part of life, I'm not pissed off about it though. Just disappointed I'd never be an astronaut, see the moon first-hand or even experience zero-g for a few moments without benefit of a roller-coaster.

So it's a FUCK YOU, IT'S JANUARY! movie, but released in December?

I remember reading the original short story and watching the original 1947 version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty back in high school. It was a fun movie that I enjoyed and it was my first introduction to actor/comedian Danny Kaye. Fast forward a couple years and I read reports that Jim Carrey would be doing a remake of the movie (this was back when he was the toast of Hollywood). I was more interested in seeing that then Ben Stiller's version. between the lack luster trailers and Bob's review, the whole idea feels completely wasted. It could have been something better, something that could be compared to the 1947 version. Sadly, looks like nobody even put in the effort to give two shits about this version. -_-

Mr. Q:
I remember reading the original short story and watching the original 1947 version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty back in high school. It was a fun movie that I enjoyed and it was my first introduction to actor/comedian Danny Kaye. Fast forward a couple years and I read reports that Jim Carrey would be doing a remake of the movie (this was back when he was the toast of Hollywood). I was more interested in seeing that then Ben Stiller's version. between the lack luster trailers and Bob's review, the whole idea feels completely wasted. It could have been something better, something that could be compared to the 1947 version. Sadly, looks like nobody even put in the effort to give two shits about this version. -_-

Well while I love the Danny Kaye adaptation, James Thurber didn't. He was annoyed that Samuel Goldwyn had the story altered to better fit with Kaye's known comedic strengths. With the Stiller adaptation I was hoping they'd try to stick closer to the short story but sadly it sounds like they did the same thing as the Danny Kaye version, only with far less satisfactory results.

Hell. Since instant ego gratification is just a button click away for most people these days I'm not sure how the Walter Mitty "daydreamer" persona scans with modern audiences anyway.

2013-1984 = 29

If Ben Stiller is 48 years old that means he was at least 17. That's okay isn't it? (Just being a maths pedant)

Not much to really add to this, but one bit did catch me...

Walter apparently worked there as a teenager (giving up his adventurous dreams in order to work and support his widowed mother functions as a kind of "origin story" for his sad-sackery.) Papa John's was not founded until 1984. Ben Stiller is 48 years old.

1) That's assuming that Ben Stiller's age is representative of the character. I haven't seen the movie, but unless you are saying that the movie said his character was 48 years old as well, that means jack shit. It's not unusual, or the first time, that Hollywood has had older actors playing characters younger than their actual age.

2) Even if his character was 48, you're talking about a difference of nearly 30 years. I know you're a movie buff, but that's basic math right there anyone should know. That would put his character at 18 at the time the store opened, which depending on your viewpoint, can still count as a teenager.

Again, 2's also ignoring the first point, in which his character could easily of been 40-48 if it hadn't been stated in the movies done for it OR the book, which from the bit of searching I've done, doesn't have an age listed whatsoever. Which means you're trying to argue that the plot impossibility exists solely upon a fact that exists outside of the movie's context.

Akichi Daikashima:

I am disappointed that Ben Stiller's directorial debut wasn't that great, this could've been something interesting, but sadly Mitty sits in they grey area between good and bad movies.

Not quite. He's already directed Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, Zoolander, and Tropic Thunder. Been around the block, this chap has.

Xelanath:

Akichi Daikashima:

I am disappointed that Ben Stiller's directorial debut wasn't that great, this could've been something interesting, but sadly Mitty sits in they grey area between good and bad movies.

Not quite. He's already directed Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, Zoolander, and Tropic Thunder. Been around the block, this chap has.

Well that shows my own ignorance.

Thanks for pointing it out though, it will prevent me looking like a right wally later down the line.

BrotherRool:
2013-1984 = 29

If Ben Stiller is 48 years old that means he was at least 17. That's okay isn't it? (Just being a maths pedant)

Ben Stiller's age doesn't matter. How many twenty-something actors play high school students in movies? Mitty couldn't be 40 with stiller playing him?

When I saw the title, I immediately thought of Benjamin Button. And Timothy Green, to a lesser extent. I'd say Timothy Green and this movie are deliberately trying to ape Benjamin Button, which is kind of sad... in a way.

It's a shame so many critics are writing this off as a dud - I had high hopes and plans to see it before that.

AntiChrist:
So it's a FUCK YOU, IT'S JANUARY! movie, but released in December?

Is it bad I can't tell if that is a parody of those movies or a legitimate movie poster?

BrotherRool:
2013-1984 = 29

If Ben Stiller is 48 years old that means he was at least 17. That's okay isn't it? (Just being a maths pedant)

We might be operating under the special actor age rules where you can play a freshmen in high school well into your mid-thirties.

OT: So, it's a movie that is desperately trying to be good, but is hamstrung by pretty much everything else about it. Well, at least they tried. I mean, I'm still not going to see it (there's a Keanu Reeves movie with FUCKING DRAGONS AND SAMURAI that got released this week), but it's nice to see a production team try to put some effort into polishing a movie into something better, even if they fail.

Actually, that pretty much sums up a lot of the movie this year: production teams trying to make something shitty into something better and failing, sometimes miserably. Star Trek tried to make itself about the dangerous temptation of militarization. Superman tried to give the character a back story that went beyond "he just is that good of a guy." Anchorman 2 tried to point out the obvious nature of modern cable news as pandering to the lowest common denominator. The Worlds End tackled the psychosis of nostalgia for a time that no longer exists. Machete 2 was... okay, that was a devolution into standard Robert Rodregez fair but you see what I'm getting at.

This is not going to be a highlight year unless your parent company is Disney, but it is a time where the big failures at least tried to go beyond flash, even if they failed in their execution.

King Whurdler:
So, it's essentially 'it was all a dream' (which is a trope that almost never works well IMO), stretched into an entire film?

Yeah... no.

That only really makes for about the first third of the movie. The rest of the movie is the character actually living his dreams.

Personally, I actually really liked this film. I'm a daydreamer, but I'm also someone fortunate enough to actually travel and get to do amazing, out-of-this-world things from time to time. There weren't any spectacularly funny jokes, but I wasn't watching it as a comedy I guess. Yeah, the Life Magazine metaphor wasn't exactly subtle, but it seemed like a pretty accurate one from where I was sitting.

As for the Papa Johns thing, I'm pretty sure the movie starts on Mitty's 42nd birthday. Mitty would have been 13 when it first opened, by Bob's own numbers. That's... completely plausible.

I also didn't really notice the product placement, aside from the eHarmony bits (and even then, I felt more like the movie was showing me an eHarmony employee trying to sell a character on the service, rather than the movie trying to sell me on it). Part of that might be because I don't think I've ever seen a Papa John's in my life. I actually just assumed it was a fictional fast food place through the entire movie.

SecondPrize:

BrotherRool:
2013-1984 = 29

If Ben Stiller is 48 years old that means he was at least 17. That's okay isn't it? (Just being a maths pedant)

Ben Stiller's age doesn't matter. How many twenty-something actors play high school students in movies? Mitty couldn't be 40 with stiller playing him?

Yeah definitely, and if he were playing someone who was 40 (which really isn't much of a stretch right?) then that means he there would have been Papa John's around since he was 9. Which is definitely enough for him to work there.

I think it's one of those things which sounds like an amusing impossibility but actually the numbers are fine

ColaWarVeteran:
Movies like this are the kind that make me reevaluate my life and make me believe I should be doing something more with it. But then again I also have a boring, humdrum job that isn't very fulfilling and leaves me with a lot of time to think. I don't know, maybe Bob's just not the kind of guy to want more out of life.

Everyone seems to be reevaluating his life nowadays.... Which imo is proof of the uselessness of such idea (is people starting to do something new or different nowadays?).
Do one of two, either live your life as it is, or do something.... Dont reevaluate your life; that shit is useless :D

I am so in disagreement with Bob on this movie it's not even funny. I saw it and was instantly drawn in. While he said it was a pretty movie (It really is), I have no idea how he came away from it with no clear understanding of the purpose of the cutaway day-dream sequences. Each one had a distinct message that it seemed (to me) to try to convey. The fight scene in particular was showing how Walter felt persecuted and judged, and wanted nothing more than to confront his *bully*.

The scene ends, and Walter's boss gets off the elevator once again shrugging off how Mitty spaced out. It really conveyed how he didn't handle the issues before him. Instead he simply drifted off, played out the scenario, and returned to the real world in time to have missed an opportunity to fix or do something in his life.

I thought it was a gem, and I honestly went into the film expecting it to be mediocre.

I also thought that product placement was sort of a running gag in the film. It was a clever way throw in product placement but it actually served a purpose to the story. There is a wide stretch in the movie where you can't be 100% sure if the movie is ACTUALLY in the *real* world or in Mitty's day dreams. The whole Papa Johns/E-harmony gags only serve to further muddle up what I assume was an intended attempt to make the viewer guess.

One of the opening moments of the film has Mitty receive a birthday cake from his sister, where it is stated he's 42. He got a job at 17 at Papa John's after his father's death, and ended up at Life sometime when he was 26 (16 year employment). I don't recall if the movie's date was specified, since Life went digital in 2000, but it feels like it was meant to be set in the present or after 2010 with Life's switch to digital intentionally historically inaccurate for narrative purposes. Numbers are good, or good enough. Odd thing to fault the movie for. Why does Ben Stiller's age matter for the *character*?

I enjoyed the film. There's my bias.

I found Bob's assessment of the Mitty character off. My view is that Mitty's motivation to get the negative is pride in his work ("I've worked here 16 years and never lost a print."). He's got nothing to do with micromanaging the transition -- he's after that one negative in order to *do his job* as a negative asset manager (do I detect a subtle cleverness in Mitty's job as a manager of negative assets?) It's the undercurrents of the Mitty character that are most interesting, not the superficial (and ultimately, as Bob emphasizes, pointless, which is the point) daydreams. But, as the film progresses, the unrealistic distortions he has involving his love interest are the very thing that pushes him into courage. The daydreams turn from missing out on living in favor of self-aggrandizing fantasy into motivating energy to live until Mitty grows to the point where he doesn't need the fantasies anymore.

Yeah, the e-harmony & Cinnabon bits were over-the-top, took me out of the movie. I looked past it, saw them as the hamfisted narrative tools that they were (Cinnabon after being in Afghanistan and the Himalayas for several weeks followed by 17 hours in detainment does sound pretty awesome, though, and that's a food you'd find in an airport, but forgive my rationalizations). I hardly noticed the other product placement or held it against the point of the film.

Where's the praise for the small, beautiful moments in the film? There was no mention of when Mitty finally catches up to O'Connell. Scenes with his mother were also pretty good to reinforce the film's message.

The emotional cues that the movie goes after hit some fine notes, but I think you'd have to be able to connect and empathize with Mitty's central conflict to get the most out of it.

It's no world-class complex film by any means, but it has a beautiful simplicity with some subtle nuance to it that was refreshing after so much dark/gritty. The trailer for my presentation had a dark/gritty Noah's Ark film starring Russell Crowe. Pass.

Edit:

Sovereignty:
Each one had a distinct message that it seemed (to me) to try to convey. The fight scene in particular was showing how Walter felt persecuted and judged, and wanted nothing more than to confront his *bully*.

Thought this was more accurate than pointless-is-the-point -- daydreams were an allegorical representation of Mitty's feelings in a particular moment. But at the same time "It really conveyed how he didn't handle the issues before him."

reiniat:

ColaWarVeteran:
Movies like this are the kind that make me reevaluate my life and make me believe I should be doing something more with it. But then again I also have a boring, humdrum job that isn't very fulfilling and leaves me with a lot of time to think. I don't know, maybe Bob's just not the kind of guy to want more out of life.

Everyone seems to be reevaluating his life nowadays.... Which imo is proof of the uselessness of such idea (is people starting to do something new or different nowadays?).
Do one of two, either live your life as it is, or do something.... Dont reevaluate your life; that shit is useless :D

Well, I'm not big on jumping into things without a plan. I want to travel but I'm not just going to back up my bags and go. I want some idea of what I'm doing and going to do first.

So its Sidekicks but with adults?

Ben Stiller is Johnathan Brandis and what, Sean Penn is Chuck Norris?

ColaWarVeteran:
Movies like this are the kind that make me reevaluate my life and make me believe I should be doing something more with it. But then again I also have a boring, humdrum job that isn't very fulfilling and leaves me with a lot of time to think. I don't know, maybe Bob's just not the kind of guy to want more out of life.

And... so that's best achieved by juvenile fantasies and daydreaming? I'm not really following your logic here.

From Bob's description of the movie, the message seems to be "fantasise about being cool while consuming brand-name products," rather than "do more with your life."

Aardvaarkman:

ColaWarVeteran:
Movies like this are the kind that make me reevaluate my life and make me believe I should be doing something more with it. But then again I also have a boring, humdrum job that isn't very fulfilling and leaves me with a lot of time to think. I don't know, maybe Bob's just not the kind of guy to want more out of life.

And... so that's best achieved by juvenile fantasies and daydreaming? I'm not really following your logic here.

From Bob's description of the movie, the message seems to be "fantasise about being cool while consuming brand-name products," rather than "do more with your life."

And that's why this review shouldn't be taken as an indication of what the movie's message is. Because it's the exact opposite of that.

The fantasising happens in the first bit of the movie. Each time Mitty goes off on one of his fantasies, he misses something that he could have done in real life. The rest of the movie is him actually living his life and experiencing something amazing. The movie's message is not to fantasise about being cool, it's to stop fantasising and live.

Akichi Daikashima:
Can't wait to go see Her, looks promising.

I am disappointed that Ben Stiller's directorial debut wasn't that great, this could've been something interesting, but sadly Mitty sits in they grey area between good and bad movies.

as already noted this is not his first go in the directors chair, it's just his worst (IMO)

I'd be disappointed if I'd actually expected anything resembling quality from this. Of course, I can't really say "I called it" because I tend to assume everything is shit until it proves itself otherwise. Best defense against disappointment.

I didn't even know E-harmony was a real thing until after I saw it so I guess I missed out on that one. It wouldn't be my favorite film but I think Bob is being overly harsh. Stiller's humour works for the most part. It's got more heart and craft than most films in it's genre and it is beautifully shot. There are some nice moments in the film and if you drop the cynical attitude it's actually a pretty uplifting film you can take your mom to. It's got set-ups and pay offs and nothing really feels wasted. Anyone who has taken screenwriting 101 won't be surprised by any of the twists. It's a charming film that deserves to exist is all I can say. Not a huge fan of it, but I think Bob is being overly critical and obviously applying personal beliefs I don't seem to share.

...I don't know if I agree with that title. It didn't seem that gritty to /me./

It's hard to take critcs' product placement gripes seriously when they're known to get their panties in a twist if an actor drinks a coke.

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