"The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty"
Music By Theodore Shapiro
Featuring Jose Gonzalez on guitar and vocals
Sony Classical (Europe)/
Relativity Music Group (US Digital Download)
27 Tracks/Disc Time: 48:52
"The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" has been prime remake material for what has felt like an eternity as it shifted from one studio after another along with director from director. In the 90's, Ron Howard was the first to bat for the film with the super hot Jim Carrey attached at one point of the films' development at New Line Cinema until Howard left to do "ED-TV" starring Oscar nominees Matthew McCaughney and Woody Harrelson. Then Paramount then took the reigns of the project with Owen Wilson as the film's star and potentally Scarlett Johansson as his co-star and then finally, Twentieth Century-Fox took over the film once and for all. "Austin Powers"' Mike Meyers was going to step into the role until he left the project with "Borat's" Sascha Baron Cohen stepping into the role and "Pirates of the Caribbean's" director Gore Verbinski taking the director's chair. Finally, Cohen dropped out of the film and now Writer/Director Ben Stiller taking over and eventually taking over as both star and director when Verbinski went on to make the very costly "The Lone Ranger" for Disney.
The film stars Stiller as the titular character, a wandering day dreamer who tries to escape his rather mundane and meaningless existence at work for the grandeur of disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action in which he finds personal satisfaction. He has a crush on his co-worker Cheryl (Kristin Wigg, "Bridesmaids") with whom he fantasizes on being with but in reality can't do anything to approach her with his personal feelings until his job is threatened along with his feelings for Cheryl, Walter soon embarks on a real life globe trotting journey filled with adventure that will change his life forever. The film was released Christmas Day with very fierce competition and despite positive reviews all around, the film never really seemed to catch on as well as it should've. However, with the film's impending release on Blu-Ray in April, it should garner a well deserved second look on the small screen.
Music plays an important part to any film and "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" is no exception with the use of very good pre-recorded songs as usual with Ben Stiller's films. This time around, he entrusts the orchestrial landscape to the great work of the always reliable Theodore Shapiro, who scored Stiller's last hit film, the brilliant comedy "Tropic Thunder". Shapiro, who started out with small indie films here in New York and brought to the forefront by the great playwrite, Writer/Director David Mamet on his excellent and underrated films, "State And Main" and "Heist", writing a brilliant, suspense action score mixing jazz and a cool guitar theme. Since then, Shapiro has been a hit composer with a great resume of films that feature some of his best work that includes "Along Came Polly", "Old School", "Starsky & Hutch", "Dodgeball", "Fun With Dick & Jane", "Marley & Me", "Diary Of A Whimpy Kid", "Dinner For Schmucks" and "The Mysteries of Pittsburgh". A very versitile composer who can shift styles quite easily and that is exactly the case with "Walter Mitty"
Writing a whimsical and at times dramatic score, Shapiro perfectly captures the moods and tones of Ben Stiller's character and day dreams that really do take off when they become reality and with that, the score takes a more personal feel to it that works. Utilizing the voice and guitar work of Jose Gonzalez, Shapiro concocts a lullaby styled main theme for Walter ("Walter Time") that is like a music box theme and feels like the theme he utilized brilliantly in "Dinner For Schmucks" and also features another theme in the form of a ticking clock ("Time & Life") where Gonzalez's voice and guitar playing really come to form and to great fruition in excellent tracks such as "Walter Sees Cheryl", "Afghan Trek" that features a spirituality to it, "Into The Harbor", "Eyjajfallajokull" and "Quintenessance", which is the centerpiece of the score where Shapiro's themes really do come to life. While other tracks such as "The Beckoning", "You Finish His Work", "Shark Attack", and "Ted Vs. Walter" feature solid material that is very recognizeable amongst fans of Shapiro's work with bombastic, subtle romantic and all out modernistic effects featured in "Ted Vs. Walter" combining techno, chorus and full orchestra.
This album release which came out on pressed CD by Sony Classical (shame on Relativity Media for not issuing this on CD as with many of their excellent titles) in Europe is a good example of a score that deserves good attention. The film may not have been a hit, but the music is engaging and intriguing that features a little bit of everything in Shapiro's ovure and probably one of his best scores in a while. My main problem with this one is that there is too many styles here all thrown together hoping they would stick. The short cues don't really help this too much because the score then starts in fits and starts instead of having a flow that would've made this one even better on its' own. As is and regardless of this, "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty" is a very good score and alot better than most scores that I've heard from last year and it is up there with Theodore Shapiro's best which to me is still are "Heist", "Dodgeball" and "Starsky & Hutch". Good score, thumbs up!