Many forget that Ben Stiller is more than just an actor. He directed “Reality Bites,” which defined a Generation X mentality. Since then, he’s anchored two franchises (“Night at the Museum” and “Meet the Parents”) and became a reliable multi-hyphenate (producer, director, actor, and writer). This holiday season, Stiller directs and leads his most nuanced and effective film yet.
Stiller leads “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty,” a seemingly ordinary man who is prone to great daydreaming. Despite harboring a crush on a coworker in another department named Cheryl (Kristen Wiig), Walter can’t muster the courage to make the first step and talk to her. When a missing photo negative becomes the key to the final issue of Life magazine, Walter takes off in search of it, finding a wonderful journey along the way.
Stiller may seem like an odd choice for such a wholesome story, but it expertly delivers a film that is equal parts captivating and funny. The cinematography drenches the film is rich visuals and gorgeous landscapes. But even at its most grand, the story stays small and intimate. Stiller’s performance conveys a melancholy that takes hold of the audience and then disappears as his character grows and discovers a new lease on life.
“The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” will touch the audience at their core. With a family-friendly rating of PG, the film is proof that a story can be transformative without adding 3D or excessive violence. Mixed with Stiller’s vision and almost playful editing, this is a fantastic movie for all. 4.5 out 5 stars.
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