The last two times Ben Stiller directed and starred in a movie, the results were the comedies Tropic Thunder and Zoolander. His next directorial project looks to be a little bit different.
The trailer for Stiller's latest directorial effort, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, hit the internet yesterday, and the movie has already garnered Oscar expectations. The preview, which is accompanied by the Of Monsters and Men song "Dirty Paws," introduces Stiller's character Walter Mitty, a LIFE magazine writer who daydreams and fantasizes about a life more exciting than his own. The trailer is replete with explosions, helicopter jumps, exotic locations, and slow-motion running that somehow isn't cliché. Due to premiere on Christmas day, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty looks like the type of movie that holiday family audiences and Academy critics will gobble up.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is based off a 1939 short story written by James Thurber. The story's first film adaptation came out more than half a century ago, in 1947, and starred Danny Kaye as Mitty. Stiller is excited for the story's unique vibe, which he says reminds him of Forest Gump. So much for modest expectations.
Of course, there's more to making a good film than than having a really, really, really, ridiculously good-looking trailer. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty may be setting the bar too high for itself. Is this a trailer for a really good movie, or is this a really good trailer for a movie? It should help that Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, and Adam Scott (with a beard?) all star alongside Stiller.
Personally, I'm excited for the movie, which has the rare potential to reach blockbuster status while maintaining its artistic integrity. Stiller's acting range is certainly limited, and he doesn't have much experience as a director, but the theme of escaping the mundane and creating fantasies is something we can all painfully relate to in today's internet era. Oscar talk is preposterously premature, but I'm certainly going to see this come Christmastime.
Perhaps The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is, like its protagonist, attempting to look more interesting than it actually is. Or perhaps the movie really is that good. Either way, the trailer is damn awesome, and worthy of the buzz it's getting this week.