Review

Gulliver's Travels

Director    Rob Letterman
Starring    Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Catherine Tate, Chris O'Dowd, James Cordon
Release    25 DEC (US) 26 DEC (UK)    Certificate PG
2 stars

Rob

30th December 2010

Gulliver's Travels - written by Jonathan Swift in 1726 - is one of the most popular stories of all time; it's never been out of print. We'll forgive a 2010 remake, then, but our memories of the text are a little foggy; we're hard pushed to recall the scene in which Gulliver is given a wedgie by a giant robot. Teacher did always say we should pay closer attention!

If you haven't guessed already, Gulliver 2010 is the loosest of adaptations. Whilst Swift's novel was a satirical look at human nature which parodied various travellers' tales, this reinvention is re-jigged as a 3D holiday movie and hangs off Jack Black's usual School Of Rock Shtick. So expect laziness, obnoxiousness and a tendency to say 'Awesome'. (*yawns*)

In an effort to impress travel editor Darcy (Amanda Peet), magazine mailroom guy Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black), aided by some plagiarised work courtesy of TimeOut, agrees to take an assignment to investigate the mysterious Bermuda Triangle. But after getting caught in a storm while at sea, Gulliver wakes up in Lilliput, a charming, picturesque little kingdom populated by two-inch tall British television personalities.

[gallery]Other than washing ashore in Lilliput, Rob Letterman's take on the tales of Gulliver bears little relation to Swift's original, instead opting to fill the movie with pop culture references and adverts for iPhones, Guitar Hero and other Fox movies (Gavatar, anyone?). He may have become popular with the locals in the original, but they certainly didn't build Gulliver a "media room" and I doubt it didn't boost his ego as much as it does Jack Black's.

Being a big man in a small town, Black lords over proceedings in his usual, over-enthusiastic manner. If you like that, fine, but if his rock-horned man-child persona grates on you, then you're in for a long 90 minutes. This is Black's show, with everyone else in danger of being trodden on by his giant, hoofing Converse.

Jason Segel, with his convincing British accent, and Emily Blunt's clichťd Princess manage to put up a decent fight with Black for screen time. Chris O'Dowd's dastardly Army General actually is lucky enough to smack Gulliver with the help of the aforementioned Transformer, but he's merely acting out what we're all thinking.

However, it's Billy Connolly and Catherine Tate that suffer the most, getting pushed aside with little to do. Except from a rather amusing chat with O'Dowd, Connolly is barely required, whilst Tate's well-stacked chest gets a bigger part than she does.

So with underwritten roles, unashamed product placement, pointless 3D stuck on as an afterthought, lazy gags, an embarrassing song and dance number, a rushed ending, plenty of plot holes and unanswered questions, this re-imagining really doesn't do Swift's novel any favours - as if it was ever going to.

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