Gulliver’s Travels

10 Jan

Title: Gulliver’s Travels
Rob Letterman
Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller, based on the novel by Jonathan Swift
Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Amanda Peet, T.J. Miller, Catherine Tate, Billy Connolly
MPAA Rating:
PG, brief rude humor, mild language and action
85 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
Rotten Tomatoes:


I didn’t really knew what to make of Gulliver’s Travels before I saw it. It had Jack Black and Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in it, all of whom I love, and was based on a classic novel which I’m also terribly fond of. On the other hand, the differences between the book and the movie, made to make it more contemporary and commercial, didn’t do the trick for me, and a post-production 3D conversion is something I’m always against (though to be fair that could easily been worse). So yes, I went into Gulliver’s Travels not really knowing what to expect from it.

The result? I didn’t really care that much for it. I mean, yes, Jack Black is doing the sort of comedy he’s so damn good at, and he’s perfectly decent in this one, too. But other than that there’s pretty much nothing to love here, the changes to the source material it made are seriously crappy, and the film doesn’t do justice to the amazing novel. Plus, it relies too heavily on cheap jokes to make use of its 3D and special effects, which, while flashy, are nothing awe-inducing.

Actually, if it weren’t for Mr. Black I would have probably found myself considering failing this movie, or giving it a grade a notch or two lower. He’s the one that salvages it, I mean Mr. Segel and Ms. Blunt are all fine here but it’s Mr. Black who gets this one above sheer suckery. And it’s all because the guy is the real deal, he’s not a grown-up acting silly, but rather a kid in a grown-up body, his brand of comedy is so unique and charming that it’s hard to find fault with him.

But if you’ve read the original novel, and fell in love with it like you should have, then you won’t be able to fully lose yourself in Gulliver’s Travels. And maybe that’s fine, because the movie is rated PG and its target demographic probably hasn’t read the classic masterpiece and won’t know just how much it got wrong and thus will be able to just get a kick out of the film. But, really, the source material is a classic satire, while the film it spawned, nearly three centuries after its publication, is just an hour and a half full of silly little gags and product placement.

There are some amusing bits here, all of them courtesy of Mr. Black, and there are a few glimpses of the film that do seem loyal to the vision of its author. But even Mr. Black is reduced to stupid little sights thought of to make use of the 3D, I’m obviously referring specifically to that bit that was used in many of the promos in which his belly gets hit with cannonballs he then fires back, I thought that looked dumb and wasn’t funny at all.

Let me recap and give you the basis for the story. We have a man who works for a newspaper in New York, and the travel editor who he has a crush on gives him an assignment to be completed in Bermuda, but then the boat he was on to get there falls into the Bermuda Triangle and he awakens in a land full of miniature people in which he’s giant of sorts. At first he’s tied up by tons of these cute little people, and then he’s revered as a demi-god by the people of Lilliput, who look at him as a warrior and sage adviser that has come to their shores by some sort of miracle.

And I won’t go ahead and describe the rest of the film, and how the Princess and and the King and the General and Horatio fit in to it. I won’t do that because it really is all unnecessary, if you’ll like this film it won’t have much to do with the plot, but with how fun it is, because it really is quite amusing at times, but if you’re a fan of the original novel like me, then you’ll find yourself too distracted with how much the two differ to really let yourself enjoy it all that much.

Grade: C+


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