Walter is a normal, troubled soul. An unsure, uncertain introvert. Talking to people is as difficult as climbing mountains. In fact, mountain climbing might even be easier for someone like him. He tends to drift off when confronted with everyday troubles until one day when the troubles, while ordinary, become rather large.
The story is based on a 1939 short story of the same name by James Thurber. Perhaps one of Thurber’s better known works, and that’s saying a lot as a lot of Thurber’s work is well known. I went in thinking there would be some great morality with a strong message that I should change my life. I was pleasantly surprised this was not the case.
It isn’t that the message is not there. It is. But unlike a lot of Hollywood there is no attempt to drive the message into your soul. It is simply an observation of a person, not unlike most of us, and in that observation we are allowed to make note of the moral.
Ben Stiller did a wonderful job as the director. The film has an engaging flow. Everyday pauses flourish into rapid rides, only to descend again into a faltering moment of normality. Yet the film making is anything but banal. Even those every day but uncomfortable pauses hold your attention. I applaud the casting director and Mr. Stiller. Every actor is a normal person. Some are handsome or pretty in their own way. But each and everyone one of them looks and acts like someone you might know. There is no flawless airbrushed Hollywood here. There is a sense of realness.
All of the actors are splendid. Shirley MacLaine, as Walter’s mother, Edna Mitty, is as real as it can get. Everyone brings a very human quality to their role. Ben Stiller, pulling double duty as director and main character, handled both very well. The camera work keeps your eyes glued to the screen. The art direction for this movie is inspired. I have always enjoyed those 1960’s and 70’s movies with quirky and clever title sequences that are sewn into the movie itself. This movie takes that approach to another level. The soundtrack does not miss a beat. This is a wonderful, clever, fun movie.
It is well worth the ticket. Little will be missed if you wait for Redbox or NetFlix. But why do that? Get out of your normal, small space and enjoy it with a crowd in the real world.