Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Tale of 2 Walter Mitty's: Original vs Remake

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 1947  8+ out of 10

The Original

After catching the remake of Walter Mitty I decided to re watch the original, which I hadn't seen since probably before any thoughts of a remake even happened.  The original was a fun and entertaining film starring the legendary Danny Kaye and the gorgeous Virginia Mayo.  Walter Mitty is a day dreamer that drifts off in daydreams and fantasies in the middle of everyday conversations.  His day dreams are much more exciting than his everyday life, until he ends up caught in an exciting real life adventure that involves a beautiful girl, murder and spies (just like the publication company he works for).     It is a perfect mix of comedy and adventure as it places this day dreamer (played to perfection by Danny Kaye as Mitty) that is dashing and super confident in his day dreams and a fumbling dork in real life.  Danny Kaye pulls off both roles with great ease (also see this in his classic The Court Jester 1956.)   His dream adventures let him live out aerial dog fights against the Germans and surgery as a cocky doctor among other adventures.   Once the real life adventure crashes into his ordinary life the film really hits its stride as he tries to avoid getting killed by the infamous Boris Karloff.  By the end the viewer starts to question whether this whole adventure isn't just another one of his fantasies. I'll let you watch it to sort that out for yourself.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty  2013   5 out of 10

The Remake
The remake was on the drawing board for literally over a decade.  Jim Carrey was first eyed for the role as early the mid 1990's
  ( A Jim Carrey version would have been great ) .  Rumors of a remake would resurface ever once in awhile with names like  Owen Wilson and Mike Myers being eyed to star in it, but it was Ben Stiller that finally got it made.  The plot of Walter Mitty made it ripe for a remake and it is shocking that it took as long as it did to get done in a remake and reboot happy Hollywood.   Unfortunately the remake just didn't get it right as far as I'm concerned and the problem lies completely in the much different tone and plot of the remake.    This modern day Walter Mitty as played by Ben Stiller wasn't as fun and the reason was the plot.  The story centers around Walter working for Life magazine that is going out of business and readying for its final issue.  The picture that is supposed to be on the cover is missing and Walter goes on an adventure to find it.   The movie follows the same general story about a day dreamer thrust into a real life adventure like the ones he dreams about,  but that real life adventure isn't as fun or exciting as the original Witty's.  Instead of the murder and spy adventure -we get a dull story about trying to track down Sean Penn the photographer that took the missing picture.   Some of Walter's day dreams were still interesting --but the real life adventure that includes him falling for Kristen Wig's character (one of his co-workers) just didn't live up to the original adventure and left me wondering if the film should have been remade in the first place.    The answer it should have --but just maybe 15 years ago, with a different plot and tone and starring Jim Carrey.

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