From the Mail Room

Movie Review: Gulliver's Travels (2010)
Spoilers: none


Jack Black, Jason Segel, and Emily Blunt star in the high-energy hit that (in this case) isn't, Gulliver's Travels.

Even Jack Black can't save this one from doom as he plays Lemuel Gulliver, a mailroom worker who takes an assignment to the Bermuda Triangle to impress the girl he is too afraid to ask out on a date. Arriving at his destination, he finds himself towering over the primitive, Tom Thumb-sized inhabitants of an unknown island called “Liliput” where he is feared as a ruthless giant.

After saving the city from a rival nation, he is crowned as chief protector in the perfect opportunity to be revered and adored like he could never imagine. There, he makes friends, Horatio (Segel) and his forbidden love interest, Princess Mary (Blunt), while the envious General Edward (Chris O'Dowd) works to get rid of him.

This remake of the well-popularized 1726 classic Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift, plagued with recycled clichés and fall-flat attempts at family-friendly humor, is an outlandish and buffoonish one, and predictable aplenty. You nonetheless have to admire the film's direction that manifestly believes in and wholeheartedly stays the course of its own poorly executed style of comedy to the blissful end.

There aren't many solid laughs in this overgrown story – the first half of which sounds like the equivalent of crickets at the finishing punch-line of a stand-up comedian – but there is a pretty girl, Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet), whom Lemuel admires, and who is, of course, romantically available for him to make the story work.

Black's familiar dunce cap-worthy antics may keep him from going the way of Pauly Shore anytime soon, but not many will refuse to call this a complete waste of tape and time, with its failing to measure up to the average afterschool special geared for 14-year-olds.

Especially when things get started, this hodgepodge of bad parody is indelibly hard to watch, despite being engrossingly well paced. The special effects are not greatly impressive, and the respectably committed level of vitality put into each and every performance is of little value with the writing being what it is.

Who will contest that Black has the perfect face for the goofy, lovable ogre he plays? Not I. The regrettable thing is that the lively talents of Black, Segel, and Blunt have been put to waste.

You try to like it because the whole shebang is a goodhearted attempt at fun, but the mishandling of the story makes it so that it can't even pass for good fantasy. Watching the boundless energy of the cast dance around on screen (as they far too often do) gives that all too familiar feel of being the only chump at the party who isn't drunk and not down with the tepid, toasty-eyed humor derived from sheer foolishness.



Grade: D+ (1 ½ stars)
Rated: PG (for rude humor, mild language, and action)
Director: Rob Letterman
Summary: Travel writer Lemuel Gulliver takes an assignment in Bermuda, but ends up on the island of Liliput, where he towers over its tiny citizens.
Starring: Jack Black "Lemuel Gulliver," Jason Segel "Horatio," Emily Blunt "Princess Mary," Amanda Peet "Darcy Silverman," Billy Connolly "King Theodore," Chris O'Dowd "General Edward," T.J. Miller "Dan," James Corden "Jinks," Catherine Tate "Queen Isabelle"
Genre: Comedy / Family