Complete A-Z list

Secret Life of Walter Mitty, The


Stars: Ben Stiller, Kristen Wiig, Shirley MacLaine, Adam Scott, Sean Penn, Kathryn Hahn, Adrian Martinez, Jonathan C Daly, Patton Oswalt

Director: Ben Stiller

Pretty loosely based on the short story by James Thurber - as was the Danny Kaye original, recently aired on UK TV - this is a gentle and amiable comedy-drama-fantasy which again finds the daydreaming Walter (Stiller) working on a New York magazine, this time not as a copy editor, but as a negative asset manager.

About to turn 42, Walter is forever drifting off into fantasyland, where he sees various incarnations of himself in heroic situations (rather too few of these and they're all in the trailer) rescuing the female office colleague he would like to know better (an odd role for Wiig).

Crisis comes twofold to Walter's life with the takeover of his magazine, Life (which is downsizing to go online) and the loss of a vital negative of a shot from Life's ace photographer Sean O'Connell (Penn) which, if it isn't found, could cost Walter his job if he still has one.

Embarking on a real-life adventure, Walter pursues Sean to Greenland, where he jumps into icy waters from a helicopter and is nearly eaten by a shark, and Iceland, where he narrowly escapes a volcanic eruption, finally tracking the elusive Sean to a remote corner of the Himalayas, little realising that the answer to his dilemma lies in his own backyard, or rather with his crusty mother (MacLaine).

This is really a romantic drama with comedic undertones, unlike the comic capers of the original, but, still, there's a villain to boo in the shape of transition director Hendricks (Scott) and, though things get a bit dull at times, especially when Mitty is trekking through the Himalayas, there's a warm feel to the ending that will send you away happy.

David Quinlan

USA 2013. UK Distributor: 20th Century Fox (Goldwyn). Colour by deluxe.
113 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: PG.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 0, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 21 Dec 2013