Ben Stiller's latest creative outing is one that leaves me with mixed feelings. On the one hand, I do love its messages to live for the moment and to not be afraid to take chances. But on the other hand, I really don't dig at all how it uses those messages as a means to promote and support drunk driving.
Now, I'm probably going to be getting into spoilers as I continue to discuss this movie, so heads up on that.
The story is that Life Magazine has been bought out and they're preparing the print the last issue, but Walter Mitty, played by Ben Stiller, has lost the image that was to be used for the cover. And so, after some urging, he goes out on a quest to solve the mystery of the missing picture, all the while finding himself in the process.
Based on the trailers, I was really looking forward to this as an awesome visual treat, what with the way that our main character, Walter Mitty, has a tendency to daydream some pretty elaborate things, which this movie brings to brilliant life. And in that regard, the movie does deliver for the most part, though some of these sequences do tend to get a bit too silly at times, and the best of this aspect is all pretty much shown in the trailers already.
But the purpose of this movie is to encourage you to quit dreaming and start making those dreams a reality, which, sure, it's a message that's been done before, but the way this movie goes about showing this message was pretty neat, and felt like some of my own ideas at times as well. The thing is that this movie at times gives a pretty warped message, and I'm not even sure that it's aware of what it's done.
The scene where Walter needs to board a helicopter in order to catch a ride onto a ship is probably the most powerful in the movie, as well as the most disturbing and offensive. See, prior to this scene, we're introduced to the pilot, as he's getting absolutely wasted in a bar and drunkenly singing karaoke. He's so drunk that he can barely speak or stay awake as he stumbles to the helicopter to make his trip. Initially, Walter wisely declines joining this pilot on his drunken flight, until he begins to daydream about his dream girl, played by Kristen Wiig, singing "Ground Control to Major Tom" to him, motivating him onto the flight. And this is where this scene gets messy. On the one hand, the song and the buildup to him making his decision and chasing down the chopper at the last second is really powerful stuff. On the other hand, this movie just told its audience that to live for the moment, sometimes you gotta take a leap of faith that'll leave you riding shotgun with a drunk driver behind the wheel, but you gotta just push yourself to go with it. And, I'm sorry, but that's just not cool at all.
After that scene, the movie did sorta lose me a bit, though it wasn't a total bust. For the most part, it is still a decent movie, until the ending opens up a world of plot holes. For one, the picture that Walter was searching for that was to be the final cover of Life Magazine is an impossible shot to have been captured, considering all the information given to us during the movie. It doesn't fit the timeline at all, and as a result, it could have never been where he eventually found it. And if it was there, then the people who put it there had to have had the foresight that not only would Walter go out on this big search of his, but that he'd wind up throwing away his wallet in frustration in the process.
Earlier in the movie, Walter goes to visit Kristen Wiig at her home, only to find a man answer the door. A man who calls her "honey", and who we assume is her husband, whom she's apparently gotten back with. But then, at the end, Kristen Wiig says that this man was just the repair man, and nobody she's linked to romantically. So... was the words he was saying just stuff that Walter was hearing in his head? And the same for the man’s weirded out facial expressions? And for that matter, why the hell was the repair man answering her door anyways? Or was she lying about who he was? In which case, wouldn't Walter easily catch her in that lie sooner or later, assuming that they continue to date? You see, these are the kinds of questions that the plot holes presented at the tail end of this movie present, those of the frustrating variety.
But those bothersome issues aside, this movie's intended message does remain a pretty important one. Though I do have a friend who felt like this movie was shoving the whole "Life" thing down our throats enough as it was in the trailer, which I didn't personally take issue with. However, if you felt that this movie was being too forceful with its message from the trailers, then the movie itself is gonna absolutely smother you, because this movie literally spells it out for you all throughout. And yeah, it does tend to get a bit overbearing at times, so some restraint would have really gone a long ways.
And there's more that I can go on about, such as some obnoxious product placement (not Man of Steel obnoxious, mind you), as well as the fact that this movie somehow got away with a surprising amount of swearing for a PG rated movie (holy shit, indeed!). And at this point, I really find myself failing to come up with much good to discuss about the movie. The visuals, certainly, as well as the creativity at times, and the acting was pretty solid throughout as well. But really, the more this sinks in, the more I can't help but feel that Walter Mitty's life might've been better off left a secret after all.