Ben Stiller directs and stars in this re-imagined version of James Thurber's short story. It's the perfect film for the holidays and one the whole family can appreciate. It's upbeat, fun and a genuine "feel good" movie.
Mr. Stiller does a fine job of directing himself and a versatile cast. Kristen Wiig is his love interest and it's her most natural part to date. She even does a decent version of David Bowie's "Space Oddity". The villain (so to speak) is played by Adam Scott and Walter's mother is played by the still remarkable, Shirley MacLaine. Kathryn Hahn plays Walter's sister. Patton Oswalt plays Todd, a voice on the phone for much of the film. And while Sean Penn's role is integral to the story, his screen time is little more than a cameo.
The CGI is kept to a minimum in the fantasy sequences and never distracts the audience from the heart of the story. The photography is beautiful, especially in the Iceland and Himalayan scenes. Mr. Stiller and screenwriter Steve Conrad take the original story and build on it, adding a layer of realism that drives home a very positive message.
Mr. Stiller has come full circle now as a director. In this film, Reality doesn't bite (except maybe in one scene).