In a new comedic adaptation of James Thurber's short story The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, Ben Stiller plays a spineless proof-reader for a magazine publishing firm. He's incapable of standing up for himself and so retreats into a fantasy world where he is cool, poised, heroic and self-assured. 

Ben Stiller Secret Life of Walter MittyBen Stiller As The Down-On-His-Luck Walter Mitty.

Stiller has directed a script from Steven Conrad, who has pedigree in this sort of field. He penned the 2005 comedy-drama The Weather Man, with Nicolas Cage, and Will Smith's The Pursuit of Happyness. Kristen Wiig is also along for the ride, as is the respected Patton Oswalt and Shirley MacLaine.

The issue here is that the critics are severely divided by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. David Rooney of the Hollywood Reporter acknowledged that the movie is a difficult watch, though explained, "Audiences willing to tune in to its blend of surreal fantasy, droll comedy and poignancy will be rewarded."

Ben StillerBen Stiller as Walter Mitty

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

Slant Magazine weren't so kind, writing, "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."

Ben Stiller Walter MittyBen Stiller Also Directed 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.' described the movie as "Kind of like if Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru were remade as an 114-minute Super Bowl commercial."

Playlist was perhaps the most scathing, writing, "The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty employs hackneyed and mawkish methods to achieve a false sense of joyfulness."

The reviews make for an awful score of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes, though we'd expect this to climb to the mid 40's by the end of the week. 

Ben Stiller Kristen WiigBen Stiller [L] and Kristen Wiig [R] In 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.'

The movie screened at the New York Film Festival on Saturday (October 5, 2013) though gets a full release on Christmas Day. 

Check out our pictures of Sean Penn, Ben Stiller and Kristen Wiig at the premiere.

Watch the trailer for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty: