It seems as though comedy king Ben Stiller has ventured into Charlie Kaufman/Spike Jonze territory judging by the first trailer for his new film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. Based on a 1939 short story of the same name by James Thurber, Stiller plays Mitty, a LIFE magazine employee and daydreamer who fantasizes about a life much more exciting than his own. Kristen Wiig, Sean Penn, Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, and Adam Scott star alongside Stiller.
This isn’t the only remake of Thurber’s iconic tale. Danny Kaye starred in the first adaptation in 1947, although it was only loosely based on the original story. When discussing the second remake at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, Stiller said “It’s kind of its own tone. There's definitely comedy in it, but what I liked about Steve Conrad's script was that he was in touch with the emotion of this story."
The film’s unique tone made it somewhat difficult for Stiller, who also directed, to pitch to studio Twentieth Century Fox. “I keep referring to Forrest Gump, because it wasn't a big comedy, really, but it also made a ha-zillion dollars. I'm trying to do two things at once: make a movie that brings in a lot of people, but also one that will be really good, and will last,” he said. Stiller’s other feature film directorial credits include Reality Bites, The Cable Guy, Zoolander, and Tropic Thunder.
Stiller’s latest attempt at directing has already generated Oscar buzz, although it is much too early to make solid predictions. However, the trailer, featuring the song “Dirty Paws” by Of Monsters and Men, gives glimpses of its great potential.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opens in theaters on Christmas Day.