Fri, 31 Dec 2010 14:05:40 GMT | By David Germain

Black's 'Gulliver' is dull kiddie fodder

The really annoying thing about Jack Black's 'Gulliver's Travels' is not so much that it's a bad movie -- it is bad, but only run-of-the-mill bad, not epic-misfire bad -- but that the movie sullies a piece of literature that has endured for nearly 300 years for the sake of a cheap kiddie flick that'll be forgotten in a month.

Review of Gulliver's Travels


With Black's giant footprints all over it, Jonathan Swift's tale of Gulliver's voyages is pretty much out of bounds for any filmmakers who actually might have wanted to make a good, faithful adaptation (you never know, it could have happened).

You can hear some studio executive listening to the pitch a decade or so from now: "Gulliver? Didn't somebody make that piece of shipboard adventure 10 or 15 years ago?"

Hollywood runs in cycles, and Black's movie takes Gulliver off the table for a good long time.

The live-action filmmaking debut for Rob Letterman, a co-director on the animated movies 'Shark Tale' and 'Monsters vs. Aliens', 'Gulliver's Travels' is set in modern times and borrows only a few key elements from Swift's work.

Black's Lemuel Gulliver is a mailroom sluggard at the New York Tribune who bluffs his way into a travel-writing assignment in the Bermuda Triangle to impress Darcy (Amanda Peet), an editor on whom he has a huge crush. Gulliver sails into some sort of vortex that transports him to an alternate world, where he washes up on Lilliput, an island of tiny people 3 inches high.

Initially imprisoned as a beast, Gulliver gabs his way into the hearts of the Lilliputians with tall tales of his exploits borrowed from 'Star Wars', 'Titanic' and 'Avatar' (all movies in which 'Gulliver's Travels' studio 20th Century Fox has a stake, in case anyone's counting).

Gulliver winds up as guardian of Lilliput against the enemy Blefuscians and befriends commoner Horatio (Jason Segel), who has his own crush on Lilliput's Princess Mary (Emily Blunt), daughter of the goodhearted king and queen (Billy Connolly and Catherine Tate).

But evil General Edward (Chris O'Dowd), displaced as his realm's protector, plots to expose Gulliver and banish him from the land.

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