Following this weekend's premiere of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which had critics pretty divided, 20th Century Fox has released a new trailer for Ben Stiller's long-gestating James Thurber adaptation, which plays up the anachronism and inspiration of the fantasy.
Unlike the expertly made (and Oscar-bait-y) first trailer, this look at the film actually features dialogue and the semblance of a plot, introducing Stiller as the titular character. This Mitty works at Life magazine (an anachronistic choice of employers) and loses a photo negative (also an anachronism). As we saw in the first trailer, the movie is visually stunning, as Walter's daydreams and travels—it's hard to tell which is which—take him to various vistas. It's pretty and has great music, but is also kind of confusing. What exactly is going on here?
Our divided reaction to the trailer parallels the polarization of the critics who saw the film this weekend. Indiewire's Anne Thompson wrote on Twitter: "Walter Mitty is a home run: commercial holiday picture and Oscar contender," later adding that "judging from reaction of Team Indiewire, Mitty plays better to older demo. And Academy. A woman leaving film plans to take family at Xmas." David Rooney at The Hollywood Reporter wasn't so sure about the film's commercial prospects, but wrote that "audiences willing to tune in to its blend of surreal fantasy, droll comedy and poignancy will be rewarded." But not everyone was so positive. Rodrigo Perez at Indiewire's The Playlist took issue with the film's product placement—regardless of the fact that its themes seem to echo Nike's "Just Do It" ads—and wrote that its "efforts at crowd-pleasing often come across as awfully strained."
Ultimately, the film seems like a love it or hate it type, and, as Scott Feinberg of THR writes, it has no obvious place in the Oscar race. With no clear narrative coming out of this past weekend, Stiller and company will have to wait a bit longer to celebrate, or not.