First Official Look at Ben Stiller's 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'

Monday, 15 April 2013 08:23 Written by  Jordan DeSaulnier
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First Official Look at Ben Stiller's 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'

Twentieth Century Fox has, with a flourish, unveiled the first official look at The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, directed by and starring Ben Stiller.

The film is set for this Christmas, but the studio behind it is at CinemaCon in Las Vegas this week, looking to drum up awareness well in advance by showing off some fifteen minutes of footage for the exhibitors gathered at what was formerly ShoWest.

It may seem a little early for a non-comic book movie to be building hype, but consider that The Secret Life of Walter Mitty was in development for sixteen years.  Like the popular 1947 film starring Danny Kaye, this remake is based on the 1939 short story by James Thurber.  Work on the remake kicked off in 1996, and in the time since, directors like Steven Spielberg, Gore Verbinski, and Ron Howard have been associated with the project, as have leading men Jim Carrey, Johnny Depp, Owen Wilson, and Mike Meyers.

Stiller looked into starring almost a decade ago, but he tells the Los Angeles Times, "Nobody could figure out a way to make it feel contemporary and relevant."  Nobody until Steve Conrad, the writer of The Weather Man who overhauled the script, eliminating a villain and focused on the hero's struggle, leaving a story all about a timid Life photo editor who daydreams his days away while he coworkers are mocking him and the woman he loves is oblivious to his longing.

"It doesn't go into a typical direction," Stiller explains "It becomes a detective story, and he ends up being more connected to who he is at the end of the movie."

Stiller the director assembled a cast of reliable comedic ringers to surround Stiller the actor.  First off, Kristen Wiig co-stars as the object of quiet Walter Mitty's affection, and the Bridesmaids and Saturday Night Live hilarity-machine is welcome in any film.  She's joined by the likes of Adam Scott, Patton Oswalt, Kathryn Hahn, Shirley MacLaine, and even Sean Penn.

A whole lot more prolific as an actor than a director, Stiller has nonetheless built up an impressive resume of directorial endeavors over the years.  He made his feature debut with the criminally underappreciated The Cable Guy, and went on to helm Zoolander and Tropic Thunder.

Those movies tend more towards straight-up comedy, but with The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Stiller's going to have to nail the emotional story and a sense of adventure.  It could be a big step for him as a director, but we'll have to wait until December 25th to see.

Until then, enjoy some material from The Cable Guy, including a compilation of scenes featuring Stiller's cameo, as well as a sequence in which a disguised Chip Douglas brutally beats Owen Wilson.

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