Directed by Ben Stiller, this film manages to dodge a single genre but inhabit many. It’s about a man beckoned to wake up and live the life he constantly dreams about in his bleak, disconnected daily existence. A quiet, socially awkward Walter Mitty has the job of overseeing the photo negatives at Life Magazine, and for years has remained the one person exclusively chosen by the famous photographer Sean O’Connel, (played by Sean Penn), to handle all of his negatives. These negatives, sent from remote locations, have been in Walters care for years, and though they’ve never met face to face, they’ve formed a relationship through this correspondence. It’s announced, unexpectedly, that Life will be printing its very last issue, and to appear on the cover is a photo of Sean’s. When Walter gets the package containing an interesting gift and what he thinks will be this last photo negative, he can’t find it. With the pressure on, Walter is launched into a panicked search for Sean and the location of this final negative, in time to print it on the cover of Life’s very last issue.
Ben Stiller both directs and stars in this film, which made me assume it was “trailer trickery” sparking my curiosity and making it look much more moving than it could ever actually be. This was not the case. I’ve never been a Ben Stiller fan, but the guy completely won my heart with this film. Impressed with his acting, superb direction and surprising skateboard skills, this film was far beyond anything I expected. It’s a film with a message, in which every scene contains some sort of larger significance and ties in. The film co-stars Kristen Wiig, of Saturday Night Live fame. She is completely loveable and remarkably warm in this film, as none of her signature strangeness or odd antics make an appearance. Instead she offers Stiller’s character a calm wise presence that helps him in moments of self doubt.
Stiller has directed a handful of other films, two of which are the intentionally rediculous Zoolander and Tropic Thunder. He’s definitely broken out of that genre and come into his own. I was ready to dissapprove when it failed miserably to be what trailers claimed. Instead I was blown away. This film displays an amazing storytelling gift, gorgeous cinematography and a perfect cast. It’s mesmerizing from beginning to end.