"Gulliver's Travels" Movie Review

12/27/2010 Posted by Admin

"Gulliver's Travels"

Movie Review

Directed by Rob Letterman, Joe Stillman, Nicolas Stoller, Jonathan Swift (Novel), Rated PG, 93-minutes.

By our guest blogger, Matthew Schimkowitz

Jack Black's abridged version of Jonathan Swift's famed epic fairs slightly better than other recent family adaptations. It's silly, sweet and occasionally funny -- not bad for a movie starring a guy who saves an entire city with his urine.

Black stars as Gulliver, a newspaper mailroom clerk, guitar hero junkie, and all around loser. Strugglng to better himself, he resolves on asking out the girl of his dreams (Amanda Peet), who also happens to be the paper's travel editor. However, while asking, he chickens out and steals an application for a writing assignment, which he takes on to impress her.

The location: The Bermuda Triangle.

On his first day at sea, a reverse whirlpool sucks Gulliver up and lands him on the asile of Lilliput, where he's captured by thousands of tiny people. Gulliver soon earns the respect of the island's populace and takes on the role of their protector, much to the dismay of the evil Edward Edwardian (Chris O’Dowd doing his best Will Ferrell).

Gulliver helps his friends defeat their enemies and learn self confidence and, of course, he learns a little about those things himself.

Black plays a good big fish out of water and uses his ageless goofiness to successful results. His brand of comedy isn't the smartest, but in a film as stupid as this, it works like a charm. Black's supporting cast, including Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, do an ample job keeping up as the proper Lilliput citizens.

Yet, while their charming idiocy gives the film energy, it starts fading as they cross the 60-minute mark. The appeal of a 100-foot tall Jack Black playing air guitar seems to collapse by the time he fights a giant robot.

Still, for a movie that could be 90-minutes of Jack Black farting hurricanes and blowing tiny people over, it's not terrible. Director Rob Letterman takes advantage of the concept without constantly sinking to the lowest common denominator – though, there are a few instances where he tiptoes across the boarder.

Black and company seem to make the most the material they have, adding moments of camp and sincerity where needed. It's rarely funny, but it's also not entirely offensive.

For all the family fluff that's in theaters right now, "Gulliver's Travels"’s willful stupidity makes for a nice change of pace -- even that change of pace is only average.

Grade: C

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