The Secret Life of Walter Mitty 2013

Critics score:
50 / 100

Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes

Richard Corliss, TIME Magazine: Mitty pays tribute to people who cherish the past and, in the face of extinction, are devoted to preserving it. Read more

Kyle Smith, New York Post: This meaningless excuse for special-effects spending is like watching a wheezing arthritic horse dragging a tractor-trailer full of big-budget digital equipment. Read more

Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal: Sometimes you see failed films and think, well, they tried for this or that but couldn't pull it off. After seeing Ben Stiller's version of the venerable James Thurber story, I don't know what the film was trying for. Read more

Moira MacDonald, Seattle Times: There isn't much reason for this "Walter Mitty" to exist. Read more

Peter Debruge, Variety: Though Stiller has proven he can be much funnier ... the emotional dimension ultimately makes the film feel more substantial. Read more

Ben Kenigsberg, AV Club: It's once the daydreams stop and Mitty jets off to Greenland in search of Penn's itinerant shutterbug (and "actual" adventure) that the film takes an unexpected turn for the dull. Read more

Bill Goodykoontz, Arizona Republic: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" just doesn't work. Read more

Jessica Herndon, Associated Press: The outlandish scenes in ''Mitty'' bring the most memorable element of the original tale - reality bending - to the forefront. Read more

Peter Keough, Boston Globe: It can be sentimental, but it is not frivolous. Read more

Drew Hunt, Chicago Reader: Painstakingly stylish, this is Stiller's most ambitious directorial work to date but also his most cloying. Read more

Michael Phillips, Chicago Tribune: The movie feels uncertain as to its own tones and intentions. Read more

Tom Long, Detroit News: This is a notably more upbeat attitude than the original short story had and Stiller sells it well. Read more

Cary Darling, Fort Worth Star-Telegram/ For much of its first half, during which visuals replace vision, Walter Mitty stumbles down a rabbit hole of technological triumph. But then something unexpected happens: It turns into a sweetly engaging blockbuster. Read more

Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly: While stunning sequences show him skateboarding away from an erupting volcano and fighting off a great white shark, the character never becomes more than a fuzzy conceit. Read more

David Ehrlich, Kind of like if Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru were remade as an 114-minute Super Bowl commercial. Read more

David Rooney, Hollywood Reporter: Audiences willing to tune in to its blend of surreal fantasy, droll comedy and poignancy will be rewarded. Read more

Kenneth Turan, Los Angeles Times: Stiller's sensibility creates a movie that's smarter than you think it will be. Kind of like Walter Mitty himself. Read more

Amy Nicholson, L.A. Weekly: Like Mitty, Stiller dreams big. The problem is that audiences don't let him. He's both famous and forgotten, the best comedy director of his generation hiding in plain sight. Read more

Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is filled with small, memorable moments that coalesce into a sweet, if predictable, parable about embracing life. Read more

Rafer Guzman, Newsday: Director-star Stiller plays Mitty as a zoned-out sad sack surrounded by whimsy. The result is a confused dramedy that isn't funny or compelling enough to make us care. Read more

Anthony Lane, New Yorker: The movie itself keeps glancing backward, at the lost and the obsolete. Read more

Stephen Whitty, Newark Star-Ledger: There's something slightly hypocritical about it ... preaching respect for the simple life, even as it's crammed full of overpriced visuals and larded with painfully obvious product placements. Read more

Joe Neumaier, New York Daily News: Dreams not only come true in the wonderful "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty," they're the stuff everyday life is made of. Read more

A.O. Scott, New York Times: Our identification gives way to envy, and [Mitty] is another one of those enchanted people the rest of us can only dream of becoming. Read more

Michael Sragow, Orange County Register: The Secret Life of Walter Mitty creates an escapist world that grows out of and enriches the real world -- and it does so with revitalizing confidence and ease. Read more

Steven Rea, Philadelphia Inquirer: A freewheeling, feel-good holiday movie. Read more

James Berardinelli, ReelViews: It's hard to pinpoint the cause of the problem, but Walter's story never engages. Read more

Richard Roeper, Richard This is one of the more disappointing efforts of the holiday movie season. Read more

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle: It has little narrative interest and requires that the director latch onto a very specific airy tone of whimsy, lest the whole souffle collapse. Read more

Dana Stevens, Slate: Stiller's attempt to braid together introspection and humor kept me engaged and curious, even when I wasn't quite sure what he was setting out to do. Read more

Colin Covert, Minneapolis Star Tribune: "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" is star/director Ben Stiller's big swing for the fences, his bid to deliver a whopper that defines him as a filmmaker of the first rank. It's a swing and a miss. Read more

Joe Williams, St. Louis Post-Dispatch: In our daydreams, an ambitious, world-embracing movie like "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" deserves to be a bigger hit than yet another "Night at the Museum" or "Madagascar" sequel. But your mileage may vary. Read more

Geoff Pevere, Globe and Mail: In adapting Mitty's tale to the 21st century, actor-director Ben Stiller proves Thurber -- a dyed-in-the-wool cynic -- is still too thorny a sensibility for the popcorn crowd. Read more

Linda Barnard, Toronto Star: If you love the Zoolander star and don't mind that this movie generates the occasional weak smile rather than huge laughs, then this self-indulgent, CGI-heavy Stiller world tour will make you happy indeed. Read more

Dave Calhoun, Time Out: The film is at its best when played as goofy comedy ... The later, country-hopping scenes feel like flicking through an old copy of National Geographic. Read more

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: You're going to find it all either enormously empowering or deeply calculated: an Arcade Fire-scored TV commercial for instant spirituality. Read more

Claudia Puig, USA Today: By trying to combine fantasy and romance with goofy humor, globe-trotting adventure and feel-good inspiration, Stiller has made Mitty a mixed bag of clashing tones and facile redemption. Read more

Bilge Ebiri, New York Magazine/Vulture: Exquisitely produced, immaculately acted, and thoroughly uninvolving, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a perfect nothing of a movie. Read more

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: The unevenness of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, and Stiller's recessive characterization of the title character, keep it from being an all-out crowd-pleaser. Read more