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'Gulliver's Travels' Movie Review

About.com Rating 2 Star Rating
User Rating 1 Star Rating (1 Review)


Jack Black as Gulliver in 'Gulliver's Travels.'

Jack Black as Gulliver in 'Gulliver's Travels.'

© 20th Century Fox
Jack Black headlines this latest take on Jonathan Swift's classic novel Gulliver's Travels, and 'headlines' is about the most positive term you can use to describe what Black does in this silly screwball comedy. A totally unnecessary adaptation of Swift's tale, this Gulliver's Travels is strictly for kids. Those over the age of 12 are likely to find little to smile let alone laugh at in this mishandled retelling of the classic story.

Anyone looking for relief from the holiday madness or an alternative to sequels (Tron: Legacy, Little Fockers) and serious Oscar contenders (True Grit, The Fighter, Black Swan) should definitely not travel along with this Gulliver's as Swift's 18th century satire becomes fodder for out of place musical numbers and a sappy side story ripping off Cyrano de Bergerac. And if you have to watch Gulliver's Travels...someone drags you and pays your way, your kids insist, you lost a bet, stumbled into the wrong theater...don't bother with the 3-D. It's barely noticeable and there are lengthy stretches with no 3-D elements whatsoever. And what's there is totally gimmicky and not in any way integral to the story. Don't waste your money paying extra for what was obviously an afterthought.

The Story:

Lemuel Gulliver is a comic book-reading, Star Wars-loving nerd who works in the mailroom of a large newspaper. He has little ambition, but he does have a major crush on one of his co-workers, Darcy (Amanda Peet) the travel editor. Instead of taking the direct approach and asking her out, he applies for a writing assignment in her department. Despite the fact he has no writing skills - he passes off the work of other writers as his own - Gulliver impresses Darcy so much so that she doesn't check on his writing background and only belated figures out he ripped off online sources. Quicker than you can say Lilliputian, she promotes him out of his mailroom job and into the position of a travel writer who gets to go off on an all-expenses paid trip to investigate the Bermuda Triangle. Gulliver had really only wanted to talk to Darcy, and count on getting a job that would immediately send him out to sea in a boat with just his lonesome self, some comics, and his cell phone to keep him company.

Amanda Peet and Jack Black in Gulliver's Travels

Amanda Peet and Jack Black in 'Gulliver's Travels'

© 20th Century Fox
Gulliver's ill-prepared for life and he knows that with this writing assignment he's in way over his head, but he sets out to sea anyway with little hope of actually pulling off the job Darcy's given him. Sent out to investigate the mysterious happenings surrounding the Bermuda Triangle, Gulliver's sucked up into a water spout and lands in Lilliput. Coming to, he finds himself tied to the ground and surrounded by little people, but surprisingly he doesn't seem too shocked by this turn of events.

The leader of the Lilliputian army, Edward (Chris O'Dowd), is a pompous little sucker who calls Gulliver a Beast and brands him an enemy of the country. Locked in jail, Gulliver makes friends with a fellow prisoner named Horatio (Jason Segel wrapping his tongue around a British accent fairly effectively) whose only crime is falling in love with Princess Mary (Emily Blunt) who is betrothed to Edward. Forced into hard labor, Gulliver's unable to convince the Lilliputians that he's not out to conquer their land until he does what no one else in Lilliput can do - he uses his full bladder to put out a fire raging in the castle thereby saving the King (Billy Connolly).

Gulliver goes from being a threatening beast to a hero of all Lilliputians, and uses his new status among the people to get Horatio freed from prison. Together they plot to steal Princess Mary away from Edward, turn Lilliput into Times Square, and stage plays based on popular movies such as Titanic and Star Wars (which Gulliver tells the Lilliputians are based on his life back home). Gulliver's never had it so good, but Edward has other plans for the newly crowned hero...

The Acting and the Bottom Line

Jack Black's not stretching at all to play this traveler in a strange little world as he delivers a performance similar to what he's shown us in all of his recent films. It's Black doing what's become the familiar Jack Black shtick, and it looks and feels like he's just going through the motions at this point. Amanda Peet is poorly served as a travel editor easily duped and who, for no apparent reason, falls for this plagiarizing slacker. Billy Connolly, Emily Blunt and Jason Segel are also given absolutely nothing to work with here, and flounder in characters which must have looked better on paper than how they translated to the screen. The only actor who manages to escape semi-unscathed from this disappointing effort is Chris O'Dowd, the villain of the piece and the only character who actually has anything funny to say or do in the whole film.

Even though it has a very short running time, Gulliver's Travels runs out of steam shortly after Gulliver arrives in Lilliput. That probably accounts for why there was a love story inserted between Segel as Horatio and Blunt as Princess Mary, two actors who unfortunately have zero chemistry together onscreen.

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in Gulliver's Travels

Jason Segel and Emily Blunt in 'Gulliver's Travels'

© 20th Century Fox
This 2010 edition of Gulliver's Travels is sloppy, with no oomph to the writing, no wit, and no charm. When the best the writers and director can do is serve up recycled jokes, call on Black to basically behave like a caricature of himself, and offer audiences a scene involving a tiny Lilliputian fighter getting an up close and personal look inside Black's butt, it's obvious the 2010 film is totally unworthy of being associated with Swift's source material. And by the time one of Michael Bay's Transformers wanders onto the scene, the film's way past the point where there should have been an end put to these Travels.

This Gulliver's Travels is Swift dumbed down to the point the original material's all but lost. Full of easy pop culture references and littered with obnoxious product placements, 2010's Gulliver's Travels is a big mess with little lasting appeal.


Gulliver's Travels was directed by Rob Letterman and is rated PG for brief rude humor, mild language and action.

Theatrical Release Date: December 25, 2010

Disclaimer: This review is based on a screening provided by the studio. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.
User Reviews

Reviews for this section have been closed.

 1 out of 5
Horrible!, Member murrman41

This movie stunk! It definitely was for kids and even then I'm not sure they would have enjoyed it. It just wasn't funny or entertaining. It was a big waste of money.

4 out of 4 people found this helpful.

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