Monday, January 6, 2014

January 6 2014 - The Secret Life of Walter Mitty Review

Saw the Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Not bad but not good. Very very neutral. I think this comes from choice of role and repetitive themes. Very predictable.
  The movie starts interesting enough. A lonely white collar worker that has love issues. In the first 5 min. we understand Mitty is an underdog of sorts. He works as a lead photo assistant director at LIFE magazine, which is about to shut down due to a group of bearded A-holes that are going full digital. Between the realities of work and hard times he zones out into long hallucinations of his immagination of things he wish he COULD do (Super human powers to save the day, extreme experienced hiker that seduces woman, etc..) There is a co worker apparently he has had a crush on and wants to seduce her, but we find him to "geeky" to seduce her....or is he?
 And that is the premise of the film, but there are huge problems that make you shut your brain off early enough.

 1) How does a guy with 0 confidence end up in his obviously portrayed high security sky scraper directing a small team? Apparently his team is made up of cave men rat like white collar individuals too as his only interactions, between the rich new CEO and his passing always busy co workers, is with this one underkept over weight photo developer who literally lives in the dark room where some of the scenes are shot in this film... So I guess that sort of works out... IT also does not explain why he goes on to have these vivid wild hallucinations. The passive message is "Oh, he is creative and imaginative"...But this doesn't really hold up because he seems like a dude suffering something that suddenly is effecting him, as if he JUST got through some crazy divorce or loss of loved one through death.
  The only connection we have is that his sister is a little bit psychotic as well and a bit of a social outcast and exceptionally immature since they are both in their late 30's. They put a point in the film to have some one force Mitty to snap out of his hallucinations. In fact, every time he has one there is some one there to snap him back. They throw objects at him. Snap their fingers. Yell...It is very hard to pull him out of his hallucinated state... I am sorry, what level of "creative and imaginitive" does that go down too??? I met several artists that never go down to that level. I have seen a man so piss drunk he stared off into nothing before falling into the camp fire. Or some one so high on a drug they saw certain things and explained everything they did and saw like Mitty was going through...So this image of "just a creative and imaginative guy" is false...He is plain out on drugs or going crazy. But, they brush that off as "just accept it. It is Ben Stiller and look it is supposed to be funny HAHAHAH!"
  So yeah, this mysteriously suddenly socialy awkward, inverted white collar worker that hallucinates, also falls in love with a co worker. He tries to work up the courage to talk to her and he lands a final job proposal that will get them talking. Soon he will be assigned to recover a photo in Greenland, seperating himself from her. But he will dream of her in his wild hallucinations that give him the motivation to do what he could not do... his job...but that is odd, because they show he was so good at his job that he was a worker for over 16 YEARS!
  In my oppinion, they were trying to mix in Stiller comedy with a message to today's confused generation. "You are critics of the corporate system, so they will identify with getting bullied and losing their jobs. But Still jokes as he shows that real talent comes from, not the techno boss killing CEO, but the aged 30 year old that slips into drug lucid dreams as he escapes the realities his work pushed him into. So lost in the dream and losing a job, he tries to find love by finding a new kind of courage..." Is what you will get out of it. Otherwise...IT MAKES NO SENSE!
  Interestingly, his love interest is not the typical young hot office worker. But a middle aged mom. To further show he is the aged 30 year old (targeting guys like me), they show him showing her son how do kick flips on the skate board.... Right in the child hood.
  And all of this, in the first 20 to 30 min. Before the film really starts. And the critics call this film "intelligent".... Must RESIST THE F WORD!

2)The problem is casting Stiller. In my opinion if he did not crack jokes...this film could have actually touched a certain emotional level. But just as you feeling the emotion of loss, love, and or hope...At just the right moment, the film breaks off in 2 directions: A) Special effects to show Stiller jumping around like super man beating people up in his imaginative drug world or B) he cracks a joke. Or does his "Stiller" act of repeating and seeming lost as he plays melow guy vs. other peoples excessive behaviots. His first stop in his voyage is in a bar. Where of course, he is that nervous and melow at same time attitude and an over drunk guy singing walks up to him... the two personalities are supposed to provoke HUMOR and make us all laugh....but it doesn't. It is very very very neutral. I can't even smirk in this film. See, ben stiller, in a setting we can all relate too, being Ben Stiller and milking cat titties is funny. Being on a small island off of Greenlands shore somewhere in a bar no one will ever bee in as a large drunk guy is playing Karaoke, and walks up to him and ends up unerving not funny. It is just sort of awkward, uncomfortable and sadly, the WHOLE MOVIE IS PREDICTABLE! You know how it's gonna end up. You can even predict the facial expressions and jokes of Stiller, because we have all seen it before.
  So, the special effects. They use them to break the momentum of real emotions and it is annoying. For example, you get sucked into his act (he can act decently), and you start to feel sorry that the girl turned her back on him...and just when you get that pit in your stomach called reaction to film, it get's destroyed as they cut to an extreme scene of special effects of his immagination, like he jumps into the air and announces his love for her and they kiss...then the scene ends and he is just standing there hallucinating...It was kind of funny 1 or 2 times...but it they abuse this kind production and it gets TIRING. I was BORED and started working on other projects glancing an eye ever so often on the screen...
   The comedy is typical Ben Stiller. He stumbles for words. Says the wrong things, etc.. and it does work! When he is uncomfortable, you as an audience are uncomfortable. The saddest part though, is that it looks like Ben is under 1 ton of make up to hide his old wrinkles. So, old covered up Ben, playing a 30 year old 16 years of work experience director, acting as a socially awkward and clumsy guy is just OFF. And his jokes kill it. Young ben, dating the daughter with a menacing father and trying to win his approval and stumbles into conversations of cat tits is FUNNY and WORKS. Old ben in make up not knowing how to talk in front of a girl is just wow... Either American society is really that immature and dut like in the new aging generation, or HollyWood is running out of ideas.

3) The camera. The angels are very very over used and get boring. The scenes and camera use is VERY PREDICTABLE and the emotions they are trying to provoke are null. One example are the close ups of the new bosses face. They purposely super impose this from the angle looking up, as if the audience is in Bens shoes looking up to the dominate face peering down and bulling everyone. It works once or twice... the audience understands...he is a menacing bully...but they abuse this angle and soon it is just "ughhh, we get it! So what is next in the plot line!" It is, to wrap up in one word: TIRING!
  Also, the use of effects between his fantasy world and real world were supposed to show us the difference between how to mature in reality and how not to mature in fantasy. But because the art of film is dead. They could not create moments in reality that will make Ben "stronger" as a man, and they use the same special effects. One scene is where he has to jump off a helicopter onto a boat. OR just teh helicopter itself had a scene where it was obviously fake...Why? Now the audience really lost the intent of the two kinds of film to relay the message and we are just all in on the ride of the forced moral at the end. Which is: "I traveled the world, I jumped out of a plane, so now I can walk into my bosses office and tell him off. And I get the girl"...yeah... Sadly, he LEARNS NOTHING morally as he is away. He does not learn how to direct, lead, or support others. He jumps out of a plane, goes hiking, and suddenly is a man.....
 UGhhh... Hollywood again, lost in it's own idealism.

4) I did like that the movie was not a preech film about how corporate is bad and white collar good. In fact, Ben Stillers revenge on the boss was just a 1 min scene where he says calmly: "YOu know, I understand you have to fire everyone and are just following orders. But you do not have to be a dick about it". And he leaves. I thought, wow that was cool they did not over do it like they over did every other aspect of this film. Including him in a bar fight...You would think with all those "skills" he got in traveling, he would come back and really whip the CEO's ass. But he doesn't. But as nice as it was to see a more "real and sober" ending, it also did not at all follow through the build up of... THE ENTIRE FILM! Because, in the entire film, they took the EFFORT and PAIN to show the boss as a real ass hole. I mean 45 min. Of watching Ben getting tortured by the boss. The boss talks down to him. Calls him names. THROWS PAPER CLIPS and BOXES at his HEAD! Tells him to repeat after him. etc etc... and in the end it is calm...Then I looked at the imagery and it is kind of disgusting. The sort of subliminal message is "You can be the aged creative middle class guy that gets the girl, but reality is: respect the corporation, take your last check, and adapt to the internet"...I say that because the CEO that takes over is firing every one to "go digital" and although they do not give details, they show enough charts and words in the back ground that show that they are doing internet launch. Then, when Ben walks in to talk down to the boss. We see more of the chart of basic internet stuff and Ben even says he does not know why they are being fired since they obviously were using the net, it is not the stone ages... So apparently it is just a corporate take over, not a technological one. The next scene is Ben collecting his pay check out of a security booth in the office (which was weird). Then descending the stairs with a armed guard close by. Then closing scene as he is looking for a job on the INTERNET with his profile all lined up where he adds under experience all his adventures... the end, the same threat is his friend...OR was it a threat? it was just a corporate dominance that we all should just weakly respond too despite out real life experiences that mean what the REAL ENDING is about.

So in the end, I thought this movie was pure turds juice. It had it's moments. It is sad to see Ben aging and bad jokes just not working. The confused plot lines and themes. Hollywood trying to target a certain crowd. IT just was neutral all around. I can't say it was  a BAD movie. IT is just decent enough to sit in chair. Turn off brain. Take small nap. Wake up and try to feel good about the end. Which is better than half the latest films that make you want to shove pens in your eyes.

If I could remake this film, I would have done it in the style they are TRYING TO ADVERTISE IT AS! I would have made Ben Stiller not crack jokes (perhaps one or two for comic relief in the right spots). I would have had be about a man that takes up the challenge of travelling and finding himself in dangerous spots and putting himself in compromising positions because he felt loss, and feels he has nothing to lose. Then meets that girl and realizes he could have lost that and mix  the emotions and poof! A film! But no... you get to see a comedian mock 30 year olds and feel nothing for over 2 hours hoping that the special effects will be "cool".

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