The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

The daydreaming protagonist of the James Thurber story is reimagined as a Life magazine employee (Ben Stiller) who, hoping to win the affection of a coworker (Kristen Wiig), embarks on a global trek to find a famous photographer’s missing negative. Painstakingly stylish, this is Stiller’s most ambitious directorial work to date but also his most cloying, a Hallmark card piously urging viewers to “embrace the unknown,” among other platitudes. Some scenes are sharpened by his quirky sense of humor (a bizarre riff on The Curious Case of Benjamin Button recaptures the cheekiness of his MTV sketch show), but this lacks the satire of Tropic Thunder or the dark comedy of The Cable Guy, still his best movies. With Adam Scott and Shirley MacLaine.