All Stiller, Some Filler

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller looked smaller than his five-foot-seven frame as he stepped onstage last Saturday night at Lincoln Center to provide context for his latest directorial feature, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. “Thanks to the New York Film Festival for being brave enough to put a Ben Stiller movie on its lineup,” he deadpanned, before going on to discuss his relationship with the center itself.

“Growing up, I lived only blocks away,” he said. “It’s nice that they finally let me inside.”
As one of the tent-pole features for this year’s 51st NYFF, Walter Mitty stands out in a sea of indies not just for being produced by a major studio (20th Century Fox) but also for its budget, which has been speculated around the $90 million range.

Since Walter Mitty doesn’t officially come out until Christmas, however—and therefore has several months reprieve before having to recoup its costs and answer to the studios—Mr. Stiller was in a jovial mood when introducing his cast who appeared onstage with him. There was Adam Scott (“great hair”), Adrian Martinez, Jon Daly, Ólafur Darri Ólafsson (“met him for the first time in Iceland, amazing voice”), Alex Anfanger and Kristen Wiig. Before introducing Sean Penn, Mr. Stiller explained, “This is a young guy who’s starting out in his career but is definitely a person to watch.”

“Stick with it, kid,” Mr. Stiller added. “You’re really going places.”

After the film, which ran at a brisk 123 minutes, the Transom ran into Peggy Siegal outside the theater. “Was it just us, or did the third act drag a little bit?” we wondered.

“All films these days seem just a little bit too long,” she replied.