Gulliver’s Travels – Film Review
Swiftly becomes annoying
PG * 87 mins * 26 December 2010
Distributor: 20th Century Fox
Director: Rob Letterman
Cast: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Billy Connolly, Chris O’Dowd
We understand this is a Jack Black film, so it must have certain Jack Black tropes – wiggly eyebrows, the word “dude” in every other sentence, fist bumping and the inevitable Guitar Hero reference crow-barred in.
We also get that it’s a kids’ film, so you automatically went for slapstick. Was the predictable weeing scene the first thing you thought of when you took on Jonathan Swift’s classic tale? It wasn’t the satire of women or commentary on Georgian society – or even the swashbuckling adventure, was it? No, it was Jack Black relieving himself on Billy Connolly and James Corden, right?
We appreciate the need for romance and the shoe-horned-in small-man-in-big-pond metaphor. We accept the nod to Cyrano de Bergerac when Gulliver helps woo the Lilliputian princess – and we can forgive the bit where Gulliver’s pants are pulled down, and he falls on a Lilliputian who ends up… where the sun don’t shine.
There are flashes of brilliance – Chris O’Dowd’s nostril-flaring bad guy, for example, and the movie remakes performed by Lilliputians were a touch of creative brilliance, in a Be Kind Rewind kinda way. But Corden, Connolly and Catherine Tate are thoughtlessly wasted; left to butt in when they can with an eccentric quip (or squeak, in Corden’s case).
We’re not purists (we liked the Ted Danson version!), but when Gulliver’s love-interest, Darcy, arrived in Lilliput, it was the final straw. You’d already departed from the story so much, churning out predictable joke upon teeth-grinding slapstick – we can only take so much!
Why not just call the film Jack Black Goes Big And Does Gurns Fun instead? We’re utterly disappointed at such wasted potential. Of course, fans of Jack Black and kids will flock to the cinemas. They’ll love it and you’ll win. Hope you’re happy.