5 hours ago
Tuesday, 31 December 2013
Film:'THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTY'
Not being familiar with the Danny Kaye 1947 film nor with the James Thurber short story, and although I knew the basic idea of a fantasist regularly inhabiting his dream world, I had prepared myself for a gentle, even quite amusing, comedy peppered with whimsy. What I saw was a sporadically engaging (infrequently) romantic tale which didn't have to progress very far before being weighted down with cloying sentiment. Maybe my skewed and unfair expectations didn't give it the chance it needed. However, if I'd known what it was going to be I probably wouldn't have bothered going.
Ben Stiller (also directing) plays a hard-done-by character who works for 'Life' magazine, trying to attract the attentions of a female co-worker he's fallen for. Simultaneously the firm is on the edge of closure prescribed by a bearded trio of young executives, with prospects of mass redundancies. Meanwhile he's trying to save the day by searching for an elusive photographer who somehow holds a talismanic photo-negative of a picture he's required to produce for the magazine. (Don't ask. I got lost!) His search involves excursions to Greenland, Iceland (fabulous severe landscapes) and the Himalayas via Afghanistan - where the mysterious photographer (Sean Penn) finally appears for one scene. Stiller's return is all sentiment with no laughs, which had started to fade out long before then anyway.
There are only a few excursions into fantasy, nearly all of which are towards the start of the film, and only a single one (a chase) being in any way engaging in its relative length and extravagance.
Also appearing in three briefish subdued scenes is Shirley Maclaine as Stiller's mum. At least her presence helped to maintain my minimal interest.
If I'd left this to be seen in 2014 I'd be saying "Things can only get better!" As it is I hope the new year of cinema-going gets off to a more promising start.............................3.5/10
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Ray I am not going to bother with this one. if you give it a 3.5 I fear I would rate it as a 1.ReplyDelete
Happy new year Ray, I hope 2014 is good to you.
Although I think it's just as well to save your money, Sol, in fairness I ought to point out its current average rating on IMDb is about 7.5. Also yesterday there were a few members of the audience who unaccountably found it uproariously funny, though even their laughter was well reduced by the time the film had reached halfway through its almost two hour length. No, I cannot recommend it.Delete
And likewise, an exceedingly happy, special and healthy 2014 to you too, Sol.Delete
Thanks for the warning. I am not a Ben Stiller fan and I just felt this would miss the mark.ReplyDelete
Meanwhile, saw "American Hustle" and it was very good!
Bob, I think Ben Stiller is trying to pull off that difficult part viz a good-looking, successfully comic actor. It's not easy to achieve. Jack Lemmon managed it, but he had considerably more heft than Stiller does. Maybe the latter will improve in time. By any standards I don't think this is one of his better ones. At least I hope not.Delete
Plan is to see 'Hustle' next Mon. Looking forward to it - and even more now with your 'thumbs up'.
Several evenings ago, Turner Classic Movies ran the original with Danny Kaye. I had never seen it and decided to watch it because I thought I might eventually see the Stiller version. I have to tell you that I found myself laughing out loud through out the entire movie. Kaye was at his best! But I really loved the supporting cast. These were the regular character actors whom you knew, not always by name, but always delivered. Needless to say, I had an enjoyable time watching this movie. The program host did inform us that Thurber was so displeased with this movie that he took out an add apologizing for it. In spite of that, the movie was still a big hit. I don't know why Stiller felt he needed to remake this. They never learn that you shouldn't mess with a Hollywood classic.ReplyDelete
Hope that your year starts out well with "Hustle."
A Very Happy, Healthy New Year to you and the entire gang!
I might well have seen the Danny Kaye film back in b/w TV days, Paul. But if I did it's long since forgotten and I'd definitely like to see it now. However, my 'Halliwells' says that that film didn't have much to do with Thurber, which explains what you say his attitude was. It could be that the new Stiller is closer to the author's conception, but if it is it's clearly lacking in entertainment value, at least to this viewer.Delete
I agree with your notion of not attempting to re-make classics (witness the very recent 'Carrie'.) Sometimes they CAN work better - in my opinion both John Carpenter's 'The Thing' and Hitchock's re-make of his own earlier 'The Man Who Knew Too Much' are both superior to their originals, though many critics would disagree with me.
But it seems that whatever the intention in re-making this one it's badly misfired.
Hope to be seeing a film tomorrow, then 'Hustle' next week. But if tomorrow's sets off the New Year better than yesterday's left it I'll be very surprised, honestly.
Thanks for your wishes. I'm taking the 'healthy' part as the most important. And of course I wish yourself and all and any close to you the most pleasurable of years for 2014 - and a particularly healthy one, naturally.
I had planned on giving this one a miss but I appreciate the reassurance. I often like Stiller but nothing about this seemed appealing from the trailer.. and the trailer is usually as good as it gets.ReplyDelete
Happy New Year btw
With the proviso that others are liking it more than I did, H.K., I cannot honestly think that you'd be missing much by going a detour around it.Delete
And a gloriously fulfilled 2014 to you also, H.K. - and to H herself - as well as to HOD, though the latter has had my own wishes on his own blog, but still......
So sad. I like Ben Stiller... but I don't know why, because I don't like most of his films. I had a feeling this one would turn out the way you describe. The original story is I think charming. I haven't seen the Danny Kaye film in a really long time, so don't know if I would find it dated now. But I loved it when I was a kid.ReplyDelete
I'm glad you said that you like Ben Stiller, Mitch, because I do too, but I'd be hard pushed to cite any of his films that I've liked so much that I'd want to see again. There's an earnestness about him which, coupled with his handsome features, which seems to work against the comedy types he tries to play. But, as I say above, some have liked this film - even quite a number in the audience when I was there. Though I think we were all getting progressively wearier the more this over-long film went on.Delete