Dear Ben Stiller: Why Use Title/Character "Walter Mitty" At All?

I wondered why they bothered calling it Walter Mitty myself. You can see in a lot of these replies that most of the audience aren’t familiar with the Thurber story, so if you aren’t going to be true to that story, why bother? It’s not like everyone wants a piece of that James Thurber action.

It’s not really an adaptation of the Thurber story in a direct sense, is it? It’s a remake of the Danny Kaye film, as I understand it. A lot of these questions might better be directed at that film than this one following in its footsteps.

I thought James Thurber’s story was one of the most pointless things I’ve ever read. I loved the Danny Kaye movie and I usually like Ben Stiller so I’ll probably see it.

That’s a good point.

Here’s the story, if you want to read it. It will take about 5 minutes.

Except it’s not like that at all.

Sure it will. Most people have read the story, or have heard the reference. Some people haven’t, but they don’t get to insist their ignorance is the norm.

TCM just played the Danny Kaye one again, a film I hadn’t seen since I was a kid.

The thing about Danny Kaye’s daydreamer is that he stays a daydreamer throughout the film. Even when he’s hounded by secret agents and deadly assassins, he finds time to continue to take himself out of that world and indulge in various tableaus (mostly for comedic effect). So that aspect of Thurber’s Mitty stays true. He’s also engaged and is henpecked by his fiancee and future mother-in-law (as well as his own mother) so that relationship is not too dissimilar to Mitty and his wife in the Thurber story.

In the Stiller version, the OP is right–the daydreaming stops pretty early (the last one I remember is at the helicopter pad). After that, it’s all real adventure. His family is also supportive and endearing, although they tease him about the daydreaming.

Overall, the film is obviously sweet but also incredibly slight. The only reason I’m likely to remember it is because of the title and Sean Penn. The rest is benign and flimsy.

Reminded me of “Le Magnifique” with Jean-Paul Belmondo.

His mom is supportive and endearing. His sister seems to be a self-centered, immature and irresponsible brat who’s used to having him take care of her and pay all the bills.

She’s definitely very flighty and scattered compared to Walter’s very grounded persona, but they have a good relationship, and she does give him the Stretch Armstrong and is there ultimately to help with the piano move. Someone who’d be a bit insufferable in real life, but is just your classic movie-free-spirit and generally not too bad, imho.

Really? I’d be very surprised if that were true.

Well, the Google ngram says Mitty ain’t dead yet

Never read the story myself, but knew it dealt with a daydreamer.

The first I heard of this movie’s existence was from the trailer. About two thirds of the way through the trailer (before the name was revealed), I asked “What is this, Walter Mitty?”. I just couldn’t see any other way all of those apparently-implausible adventures could fit together.

And for the record, I’m 36. So there’s still a hefty-sized demographic for whom the name would be meaningful.

Umm,what are these “Ben Stiller crapfests” have you guys been subjected to? I can’t think of a single Ben Stiller film other than that quasi documentary he did about evolution in schools (or whatever)

Er, that was Ben Stein you’re thinking of (with the evolution “documentary”). Completely different guy.

Zoolander, Meet the Parents, Meet the Fockers, Little Fockers.

So what I’m getting here is that it’s typical Hollywood rubbish, little or no resemblance to the story it claims to be based on, and I shouldn’t waste my time with it…

I will fight with knives anyone who thinks Zoolander was crap.

Ha ha. You’re right of course. Oops.

Those “meet the …” movies are on my “I don’t care who recommends it - I ain’t watching it” list.

A thread on this very board concurrs.