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This film is odd, to say the least. Maybe it is because I am not familiar enough with the comedy genre these days, I found its structure and narrative almost eccentric to the point of grotesque, and was outright stunned by the producers throwing production values at the audience as if there was no tomorrow: locations from New York through Green- and Iceland to Afghanistan (admittedly mostly filmed in Iceland), open ocean spectacular, special effects of Spiderman-like dimension with chases through Manhattan and leaps across elevated roads into burning buildings… while all of this looks quite fabulous, I found it to be in a strange sort of mismatch to the story. At the end of the day, that story is a simple one, about a simple man, with a crush on his colleague. Don’t get me wrong, the Icelandic tourism board can be proud of this, Mitty’s chase around the world for a missing picture looks absolutely beautiful and has very nice and funny moments with appropriate comedic understatement (say: the helicopter pilot karaoke singer). But maybe everybody develops a feeling for the appropriate way a given story should be told, and my feeling was that this very story would have benefited from being told in a more humble way. Funny enough, then it would have been a regular urban rom com, and I would never have been interested enough to check it out. One of the many paradoxes this film provides.

Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig in the film’s center are very good, by the way, even though all the location scouting that is rewarded with a conversation with Sean Penn about Snow Leopards does not really leave a lot of time for interaction between the two. I cannot remember ever enjoying and specifically remembering watching Stiller in a movie – until this week, when I saw “The Royal Tenenbaums” as well as “Walter Mitty” within a couple of days. I think my gaps in the Stiller oeuvre are mostly because his movie tends to be in a sort of comedic corner of the movie world that bears little interest to me. Happening to come across him in this film (where it seems he was actually arm-wrestled into directing after everybody else defected, if I interpret the news clips correctly) did me a favour, because he is quite a subtle (and certainly at times very handsome) actor.

In summary: this weird creature of a film entertained me quite a bit, and irritated me no less. Better than being bored, right?

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/the_secret_life_of_walter_mitty_2013/

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