Okay, let me get two things clarified staight up:
1) I do not like Ben Stiller as an actor
2) Danny Kaye is my absolute favourite comedian.
Now these two things would automatically make you conclude, if you knew something about the movie I am about to review, that I would avoid it like the plague. Mainly because it stars Ben Stiller in the title role of a film that has previously been done by Danny Kaye. And you'd be right. When Luke first told me about it I think my stomach actually did a horrible kind of lurch. I swore to myself that I'd never see the film or go near it, and that it was pretty much blasphemy of the foulest kind and an insult to Danny Kaye as a legendary comedian and actor. You know what they say though.... never say never.
I saw the preview of the film and thought: hmmm... Ben Stiller doesn't look completely annoying in that. And the cinematography is pretty impressive. Actually, it looks like a conpletely different film. Then the reviews came out and they were all amazing, so Luke and I swallowed our pride and went to see it at the cinemas.
It's true that both films are based on the short story by James Thurber, but that's about where the similarity ends. I guess because the story is so short it allows for a scriptwriter to be incredibly creative.
Essentially the storyline is this: A daydreamer (Walter Mitty) escapes his anonymous life by disappearing into a world of fantasies filled with heroism, romance and action. When his job is threatened along with that of his co-worker, he takes action in the real world, embarking on a global journey that turns into an adventure more extraordinary than anything he could have ever imagined.
At times I felt like I was more watching an advertisement for Iceland, but it was a really great feel-good movie. Before it ended, though, I came up with a way better non-cliched ending, whereas of course the movie went for the very predictable conclusion of the kind audiences want - but oh well.
Interesting fact: The name Walter Mitty and the derivative word "Mittyesque" have entered the English language, denoting an ineffectual person who spends more time in heroic daydreams than paying attention to the real world, or more seriously, one who intentionally attempts to mislead or convince others that he is something that he is not. In military circles, this usually refers to people who try to fake an impressive career.
My personal favourite part of the film is how it includes the short story's famous sound effect (as does the Danny Kaye version) in a very subtle way. You see, in the short story when Mitty daydreams, there is always the sound "pocketa, pocketa, pocketa" incorporated somehow. And I realised this was the sound a train made while Mitty was waiting at the station at the start of the film, just before his first daydream.