26 December 2013 4:05 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Ben Stiller's take on James Thurber's famous fantasist strips the story of all its humour and charm

Ben Stiller directs and stars in this narcissistic and even slightly humourless new adaptation of James Thurber's classic short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, about a fantasist always drifting off into a world of his own. In striving so earnestly for a redemptive and genuinely heroic happy ending, Stiller's movie jettisons the original's lightness. Mitty here is employed as a picture researcher at Life magazine in modern-day New York; he keeps zoning out, and indulging in reveries of greatness, action and adventure: they are satirically dramatised before our eyes, but keep snapping back to reality like burst balloons. That magazine job is incidentally derived from the 1947 Danny Kaye version, in which Mitty was a publishing employee addicted to racy pulp magazines; this in turn evolved from the moment »

- Peter Bradshaw

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