Gulliver's Travels : Movie Review

With the arrival of this "adaptation" of Gulliver's Travels, author Jonathan Swift must be spinning in his grave fast enough to make a top dizzy. If Swift was alive, no doubt he'd demand that his name be removed from the credits. Little of his satirical classic beyond a few names, locations, and general ideas have survived the transition from the written page to the dumbed-down family adventure foisted upon the public by director Rob Letterman and screenwriters Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller. Still, the chief sin committed by Gulliver's Travels is not that it's a poor adaptation but that its entertainment value is almost nonexistent.

Only the movie's "high concept" remains the same as the one in the book, and the narrative ransacks no more than Book One of Swift's Gulliver's Travels (with a brief nod to Book Two). So Gulliver's Travels is about the voyage of Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) to the mysterious Island of the Lilliputians, a race of six-inch high "little people," where he becomes a figure of great curiosity and becomes embroiled in local politics. There ends any common ground the movie has with the book. In this version, Gulliver is a mail clerk at a newspaper office in Manhattan rather than a surgeon in England. To court favor with Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet), the travel editor, he agrees to fly to Bermuda to investigate "new findings" about the Bermuda Triangle. Once there, he heads out to sea in a one-man craft, becomes lost, and winds up in the country of Lilliput. After an initial period as a prisoner in which his lone friend is fellow dungeon denizen Horatio (Jason Segel), he finds favor with the royal family - King Theodore (Billy Connolly), Queen Isabelle (Catherine Tate), and Princess Mary (Emily Blunt) - and becomes Lilliput's protector, displaying disgruntled General Edward (Chris O'Dowd). After singlehandedly defeating the would-be invading fleet of the rival country Blefuscu, Gulliver's status in Lilliput soars, but this encourages Edward to commit an act of treason in an attempt to bring down his big rival.

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Author : James Berardinelli