Movie Review: Gulliver's Travels

by Alan Rapp on December 25, 2010

in Print Reviews

I’m not sure, but I’m willing to bet the central idea for putting Jack Black in a remake of Gulliver’s Travels was for the express purpose of having him fight a giant robot in the town square as the miniature masses looked on. As ideas go, this one is less than inspired (but, then again, so is the rest of this hapless film).

How you take the talents of Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, and Billy Connolly and create something as thoroughly inane and painfully unfunny as Gulliver’s Travels is a mystery. This might be the dumbest movie I saw this year.

Black stars as slacker mailroom worker Lemuel Gulliver. To impress news editor Darcy Silverman (Peet), for whom he’s had a secret crush for years, Gulliver plagiarizes various travel articles earning him a spot to write for the paper. (I can’t imagine how such a well designed plan might blow up in his face.) His first assignment takes him to the Bermuda Triangle. (Cue ominous music.) After sailing into a storm Gulliver finds himself in the land of Lilliput, a kingdom filled with people less than 6-inches tall.

Gulliver’s large size initially makes him a threat to the Lilliputians, who throw him in jail, but our large friend soon earns their favor by proving he can protect the tiny people from the armies of the neighboring country of Blefuscu (also filled with teeny tiny folk). While boasting of his own accomplishment (he starred in every Hollywood blockbuster ever made, and is also the President of the United States), he befriends a local commoner (Segel) and helps him woo Princess Mary (Blunt) away from her betrothed – the insipid General Edward (Chris O’Dowd).

There are so many things wrong with Gulliver’s Travels it’s hard to know where to begin. Perhaps the most troubling is Gulliver himself. Gulliver is a jerk, and not even a talented one. His moment of epiphany doesn’t excuse any of the behavior we’ve witnessed over the course of the film, but since the movie needs to end on a high note our hero not only saves the day but gets everything he “deserves.”

The chance that Peet’s character would fall for him given his various lies (one of which could have cost her job, another could have cost her life) and his sexy odd stalker-like romancin’ (the ladies so love that), and jump into his arms is only slightly more ridiculous than the Lilliputians being able to recreate various buildings, video games, and movie sets, all of which they have never seen, in near perfect detail.

Throw in several groan worthy scenes (one of which is directly lifted from Strange Brew) including Black dressed up as a child’s doll, O’Dowd moping around like a 6-inch baby, and some truly cringe-worthy wooing by Segel, and you’re left with a collection of head-scratching moments that lead to only further bury the film under an increasingly large pile of dung.

Everyone involved should be wary of reprisals from the ghost of Jonathan Swift. This unnecessary and tragic telling of the author’s tale is one of the worst films of the year. As for the 3D, added long after filming was completed, it fails to add even a single memorable effect or moment to the proceedings. It turns out the only thing big about Gulliver’s Travels is the disappointment it will leave everyone who pays to see it.

A stalwart fan of under-appreciated cinematic gems such as Condorman, Alan Rapp has harangued, belittled, and argued with just about every Scene-Stealers contributor ever. More of his insight, comic nerdiness, and righteous fury can be found at dadsbigplan, RazorFine Review, and ‘Xplosion of Awesome, and the Four Color Freak-Out podcast.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 jack duhamel January 6, 2011 at 8:12 pm

great movie

- Jack Duhamel

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2 Mary Huff January 17, 2011 at 6:05 pm

I personally thought this was a good movie. Although it didn’t have a cognitive depth to it, and its story line was like most others, this is a movie you can take the kids to see and both of you will enjoy it! You seriously laugh nonstop.

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