Reviews provided by RottenTomatoes
Mitty pays tribute to people who cherish the past and, in the face of extinction, are devoted to preserving it.
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.
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.
Though Stiller has proven he can be much funnier ... the emotional dimension ultimately makes the film feel more substantial.
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.
The outlandish scenes in ''Mitty'' bring the most memorable element of the original tale - reality bending - to the forefront.
Painstakingly stylish, this is Stiller's most ambitious directorial work to date but also his most cloying.
This is a notably more upbeat attitude than the original short story had and Stiller sells it well.
Fort Worth Star-Telegram/DFW.com:
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.
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.
Kind of like if Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru were remade as an 114-minute Super Bowl commercial.
Audiences willing to tune in to its blend of surreal fantasy, droll comedy and poignancy will be rewarded.
Los Angeles Times:
Stiller's sensibility creates a movie that's smarter than you think it will be. Kind of like Walter Mitty himself.
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.
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is filled with small, memorable moments that coalesce into a sweet, if predictable, parable about embracing life.
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.
The movie itself keeps glancing backward, at the lost and the obsolete.
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.
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.
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.
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.
It's hard to pinpoint the cause of the problem, but Walter's story never engages.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
You're going to find it all either enormously empowering or deeply calculated: an Arcade Fire-scored TV commercial for instant spirituality.
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.
New York Magazine/Vulture:
Exquisitely produced, immaculately acted, and thoroughly uninvolving, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a perfect nothing of a movie.
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.