Sometimes, a trailer can surprise you. While they basically exist for the sole reason to sell you on the premise, or performers, or approach to a particular project, they can also provide a sense of how creative, or cravenly commercial a movie can be. Some rare exceptions have been Todd Field’s famous lonely train whistle preview for ‘Little Children,’ or Paul Thomas Anderson’s enigmatic ads for ‘The Master.’ Now comes Ben Stiller and his take on the long gestating adaptation of the James Thurber classic short story, ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ – and we’re stunned.
Amazing, right? No sledgehammer comedic moments. No pointless mugging for the camera. No sense of outright pandering to the demo that made such nauseating fare as ‘Night at the Museum’ or the ‘Madagascar‘ films wildly successful. Instead, Stiller (whose also directing from a script by Steven Conrad who penned ‘The Pursuit of Happyness’ and ‘Wrestling Ernest Hemingway’) appears to be copping some moves from Michel Gondry circa ‘Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,’ balancing a nice level of hipster ennui with mere glimpses of the fantastical fantasies that fuel Mitty’s daily existence.
Of course, there are signs that this could be nothing more than a focus group manipulation away from the obvious pitfalls Stiller and his films are famous for. Take the moment when Adam Scott breaks Mitty’s Kristin Wiig-oriented daydream. In the trailer, it looks sly and subtle. We don’t see what happens next, which could be anything from a maintenance of said mood to a bunch of blue-humor putdowns. Or how about the last shot. Stiller is looking for a car. The confused rental agent in the homemade hut offers him a choice – red or blue. Cut to a shot of two identical cars of the corresponding colors. A nice gag, or another obvious visual joke in a film full of them?
One thing’s for certain, Stiller is taking over for some previously placed heavyweights. This movie has been in development since 1994 when the talk of doing a “remake” (Thurber’s story was first adapted in 1947 as a vehicle for musical comedy star Danny Kaye. The author was NOT impressed) centered around a then hot Jim Carrey, fresh off ‘The Mask.’ In the subsequent two decades, such names as Owen Wilson, Mike Myers, and Sacha Baron Cohen were considered for in front of the camera while Steven Spielberg and Gore Verbinski were attached behind it. Judging from what we can see for now, the right combination was struck. For now.
‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty’ will open Christmas day.
Source: The Playlist