The premiere of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty at the New York Film Festival on Saturday met with what looks to be the year's most polarizing response from the critics. Ben Stiller's fantasy, based on the James Thurber story about an uninteresting man who imagines himself in fantastical situations to impress the woman of his desire (Kristen Wiig in this movie), was labeled by many as simply not a festival movie, and should have waited to debut on its scheduled wide release date, which is Christmas Day. From all the mixed response (some championed its sentimentality while others pretty much despised it), there's no way to tell what the ultimate critical consensus will be in December. But its Oscar chances look fairly dismal at this stage, unless the movie manages to become a massive success with the public, which is always possible.
"Rather than channeling James Thurber's satirical tone, Stiller plays it mostly earnest, spinning what feels like a feature-length 'Just Do It' ad for restless middle-aged auds, on whom its reasonably commercial prospects depend." (Variety)
"The film's pleasures may be too minor key and its pace too meandering to conquer the mainstream. But audiences willing to tune in to its blend of surreal fantasy, droll comedy and poignancy may be rewarded." (Hollywood Reporter)
"Unfortunately, this 'Mitty' tries too hard, and as a result his many adventures- both real and imagined- are neither intriguing nor amusing." (The Wrap)
"Ben Stiller's aesthetics blend overly manicured imagery with soaring rock songs that underline every emotion, lest the film's corporate logo-driven message-making didn't get the point across clearly enough." (Slant)
"'Walter Mitty' employs hackneyed and mawkish methods to achieve a false sense of joyfulness." (The Playlist)