Critics (Dis)Agree: You Will Love (or Hate) Ben Stiller’s ‘Walter Mitty’

Sunday, October 6, 2013
By Kevin Crossman

Ben Stiller’s latest directorial and starring vehicle, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, debuted at the New York Film Festival as well at screenings in Los Angeles and the prestige film seems to be utterly divisive. The film stars Stiller as LIFE magazine editor who has fantastic daydreams and also stars Kristen Wiig, Adam Scott,¬†Shirley MacLaine, Kathryn Hahn, Patton Oswalt, and Sean Penn. The film received a plum placement at the film festival in Stiller’s home town of New York. Deadline is reporting there was a simultaneous screening for critics on the Fox lot in Los Angeles.

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Ben Stiller in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

Walter Mitty is certainly a film with epic ambitions, and has gestated for years as a passion project for Stiller. That grand, yet fantastic scale seems to be a lightning rod for critics who mostly seem to fall into either the “love it” or “hate it” camps. Huffington Post has a great post compiling all the critical tweets related to the film, which range from Anne Thompson’s “Walter Mitty is a home run: commercial holiday picture and Oscar contender.” to Peter Knegt’s “THE SECRET OF WALTER MITTY is a totally misdirected mess, often laughably so. And the first time I’ve ever disliked Kristin Wiig. :(”.

Deadline’s article seems positive in reaction, tapping Stiller for likely Golden Globe nominations (since the Globes have a Musical/Comedy category). Deadline’s Pete Hammond also smartly puts all the awards talkin perspective by saying, “Stiller has made an exceptionally entertaining film and a fine re-invention for Walter Mitty. That should be enough.” Meanwhile, leading Oscar-watcher Tom O’Neill confidently predicts a Best Picture Oscar nomination for Mitty, as well as “below the line” nominations.

Some of the reviews seem to indicate the film resonate with 40-ish adults rather than young adults, which seems like hardly a problem given Stiller’s age and the fans (like this author) who are from the same generation. As far Oscar nominations, this year’s slate of films has been discussed as one of the strongest in years (where even a true prestige project like Foxcatcher blinks and bails from the season). Box office prospects seem equally tricky given this is not “wacky Stiller” that audience have traditionally flocked to.

The Secret Life of Walter Mitty opens on Christmas day. Fox is smartly keeping the discussion going by announcing today that a new trailer will debut on Monday.

One Response to “Critics (Dis)Agree: You Will Love (or Hate) Ben Stiller’s ‘Walter Mitty’”

  1. ASFan

    I’m mid-20s and I think it looks incredibly unique and interesting.


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