Stiller (Tower Heist) is really best known for his broad humor in a variety of films and TV efforts. Mitty allows him to stretch two other, and lesser known, aspects of his talent: drama and directing. Tackling both roles in this film, he shows some significant restraint and a nice eye for composition. The visuals of the film are really worthy of Mitty’s place of work.
Mitty, like its 1947 predecessor, isn’t a fast moving or suspense story. It is a quietly contemplative look at a man waking up from his daydreams to live his life. It is inventive and entertaining. And, for the most part, it works as a grand romance between he and Wiig (Despicable Me 2), though it is as much about Mitty learning to love himself.
One of the strongest aspects of the film is the smooth transitions between life and fantasy. Certainly, some of the moments work better than others, the shift is always occurs without missing a beat. However, the growth of Mitty during all of his adventures (real and otherwise) doesn’t quite feel right… it is just a little too easy. And Scott’s (Parks and Recreation) character is allowed to be far too broad, shattering the sense of reality. Also, the trailers and advertising gave away far too many of the moments that help set the tone and provide surprise.
What is very nice is how tightly the whole adventure ties together. Even if you get far ahead of the story (and you likely will) it provides a nice pay-off and delivers that warm “loving life” feeling by the end. It speaks well to Stiller’s potential and control, if he allows himself to exercise it rather than, like Jim Carrey, falling back on the far easier broad comedy that he is better known for.