Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The

MPAA Rating: PG

Entertainment: +2

Content: -2

Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott, Shirley MacLaine, Sean Penn. Adventure/comedy/drama. Written by Steve Conrad. Directed by Ben Stiller.

FILM SYNOPSIS: A milquetoast film negative handler for Life magazine (he’s a milquetoast proofreader for a magazine publishing firm in Thurber’s short story) spends much of his day dreaming of being someone he’s not – a macho, manly-man. But when his job and those of his coworkers are threatening because he can’t find the photographer’s negative of an important picture for the last cover of the magazine, he musters bravery and crosses the world in order to find the photographer who may know the priceless photo’s whereabouts.

PREVIEW REVIEW: From the sublime short story: “A huge, complicated machine, connected to the operating table, with many tubes and wires, began at this moment to go pocketa-pocketa-pocketa. "The new anesthetizer is giving away!" shouted an intern. "There is no one in the East who knows how to fix it!" "Quiet, man!" said Mitty, in a low, cool voice. He sprang to the machine, which was now going pocketa-pocketa-queep-pocketa-queep. He began fingering delicately a row of glistening dials. "Give me a fountain pen!" he snapped. Someone handed him a fountain pen. He pulled a faulty piston out of the machine and inserted the pen in its place. "That will hold for ten minutes," he said. "Get on with the operation. A nurse hurried over and whispered to Renshaw, and Mitty saw the man turn pale. "Coreopsis has set in," said Renshaw nervously. "If you would take over, Mitty?" Mitty looked at him and at the craven figure of Benbow, who drank, and at the grave, uncertain faces of the two great specialists. "If you wish," he said. They slipped a white gown on him, he adjusted a mask and drew on thin gloves…”

“Pockata! Pockata!” Where’s the” Pockata! Pockata!” in this screen version?

Though director Ben Stiller fills his movie with great visuals and casts his supporting characters with pros who handle their roles effortlessly, still Stiller manages to miss much of the whimsy found in Thurber’s 1939 short story. And while the family-friendly Danny Kaye movie from 1948 also strayed from Thurber’s narrative, still it managed a whimsical slight-of-hand, and incorporated a fabulously funny Kaye routine called “Anatole of Paris.”

I kept hoping the humor in this remake would be just a touch funnier and the touching moments would move me more than they did. And sadly, while the PG-rated film avoids obscenity, still the writer/director/ star thought nothing of having the bad guy misuse Jesus’ name in an opening scene. Imagine that, they determined to avoid bad language in this comic fantasy, but still the filmmakers thought nothing of profaning Jesus’ name. And the film opens on the day we celebrate His birth.

So, now I picture a Christian moviegoer approaching the box office attendant, with the knowledge of this blasphemy, and purchasing a ticket….I’m not throwing stones, just evaluating the direction our movie-going society has taken since 1948.

Intended Audience: Family (if you don't mind the taking of Jesus’ name in vain)

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
20th Century Fox

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: None

Obscene Language: I caught one use of the s-word.

Profanity: Besides the expression “oh my God” being used more than in an episode of Friends, the villain utters ‘Jesus” out of frustration on one occasion; while that’s Hollywood on good behavior, it still belittles Jesus in a film that attempts to stay clear of objectionable language.

Violence: One violent fight scene and the lead finds himself in several dangerous situations, mostly played for laughs.

Sex: None

Nudity: None

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: None

Drugs: Brief drinking.

Other: At one point, the lead’s sister is doing a play at a church, Walter calls it a weird church.

Running Time: 114 minutes
Intended Audience: Family

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