Monday, December 27, 2010

Jack Black Goofs on Gulliver

This is not your grandfather’s “Gulliver’s Travels.” It’s not your father’s either.
Jonathan Swift wrote “Gulliver’s Travels” in 1726 as a satire of the British monarchy, government and human nature in general. It is by far Swift’s most popular work, and it has been so enduringly loved it has never been out of print.
Perhaps it was inevitable that a Hollywood studio, bereft of original ideas, would adapt the tale as a CGI-gimmicky Jack Black comedy.
A little Jack Black goes a long way. I happen to like his audacity and mischievous grin, but as a romantic lead I find the idea as far-fetched as Swift’s tiny and giant people in far-off lands.
Lemuel Gulliver (Black) works in the mail room of a New York City publishing house. He is a classic slacker and probably would be a mail room boy forever if it weren’t for a crush on Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet), the pretty editor of a travel magazine.
Somehow (this is far-fetched, remember?) he fakes his way into taking a travel assignment to Bermuda that Darcy doesn’t want.
And so Gulliver sets off in a rented road bound for the Bermuda Triangle with no crew or provisions. A storm brews, water spouts, and Gulliver awakes on the shore of an island, tied up by tiny ropes tied by tiny people.
The tiny King Theodore (Scottish actor Billy Connelly) rather likes oafish Gulliver, as does his daughter, Princess Mary (Emily Blunt).
Gulliver also makes friends with Horatio (Jason Segal), who is smitten with the fair Princess.
Ah, but Mary is promised to General Edward (Chris O’Dowd), the egotistical head of Lilliput’s army.
That’s pretty much it, except for a brief detour to Brobdingnag, where Gulliver becomes plaything of a giant little girl, and an absolutely absurd battle royale finale in which Gulliver battles Theodore inside a giant Transformer-type robot contraption.
Who this is supposed to appeal to is anyone’s guess. It’s too mushy for kids, too ridiculous for adults, and too fakey for those who love special effects. Big Jack, I think you bombed out this time.

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