Ben Stiller has given us a lot of great films from behind the camera, and it's always great to see someone go beyond their comfort zone to deliver something different. The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is a story of a man who loses himself in his daydreams, but eventually goes on a life-changing adventure to help secure his and a co-worker's job and to fulfill things in his life that seems to be at a standstill. Stiller calls on Theodore Shapiro once again after their teaming on Tropic Thunder. While this is only the second film Shapiro has scored for Ben Stiller as a director, he's also scored Ben Stiller vehicles like Dodgeball and Starsky & Hutch. Shapiro's versatility made him a perfect choice for this film, and boy does he deliver.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty is a tremendously resonating score. The whole soundscape is unique and feels like it has its own distinct identity, and I think that's very important for the central character of Walter. Shapiro gives us a very definitive theme that immediately grounds us in Walter's plain life. We feel the emptiness and we feel the loneliness, but we also feel the yearn for excitement and the fear holding back the ability to pursue it. The life of the score comes from his dream sequences where Shapiro is free to be as big as he wants. However, the music never feels like it detaches from the main body of the score. In other words, the dream sequences are not their own pieces as they are still very much part of the continuing narrative. As the story moves along and Walter goes further on his real-life journey, we feel the music fill up with a sense of fulfillment. The identity of Walter in the music doesn't change, but everything starts to feel more complete and accomplished. There are truly some beautiful moments that will send that wonderful chill down your spine. The music grows as the character does, and the thematic structure of it all is so strong. You feel like you're part of this score all the way through. Once you move past the short tracks that makeup the beginning of the album you will find some great moments where the score is allowed to work freely and continually. As the album continues you'll find longer tracks to get lost in, and they are really special. When we finally close the narrative at the end you feel accomplished; you feel fulfilled. You feel as if the music added something to you that wasn't there before, and that's kind of amazing.
The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty utilizes wonderful arrangements, vocals and themes to effectively create an enriching story. Theodore Shapiro has always been one of my favorite composers, and I feel like his work needs way more recognition than it gets. The music here for this film is truly something special and unique. There is so much life and inspiration here that it's impossible for this music not to affect the listener. The beauty in it all is that this is a very simple score, but the rich character behind it makes it feel organic and unique. Swedish singer/songwriter José González contributes some of his skills and Mark Graham also makes some contributions to the album. This is a special one that snuck in there at the end of the year, and you'll be glad that you checked it out.