Gulliver's Travels

Jack Black's latest veers between the very mildly chucklesome and plain not funny

Gulliver's Travels

Director: Rob Letterman
Starring: Jack Black, Emily Blunt, Jason Segel, Amanda Peet, Chris O’Dowd
Time Out rating:

Like so many abridged versions of Jonathan Swift’s classic eighteenth-century novel, director Rob Letterman’s baggy adaptation eschews the writer’s extended travelogues in favour of debarking on the island of Lilliput and pretty much remaining there for the duration.

The camera first alights on the mailroom of the New York Tribune where one Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) continues his menial job as a postman. Conscious of, but happy with, his social standing among the newspaper’s high-flying bigwigs, Gulliver is nevertheless persuaded by a fellow colleague to improve his lot. So, using entire chapters plagiarised from Time Out and Fodor’s travel websites, he persuades Amanda Peet’s editor Darcy – for whom, of course, he has the hots – to commission him to do a write-up. She then sends him off to the mysterious and dangerously stormy Bermuda Triangle…

And so we set sail towards the main bulk of the storyline, as Gulliver washes up on the shores of an island occupied by a race of six-inch-high little people. At this juncture the film dances into Monty Python territory with pompous Regency characters flapping about spouting frivolous dialogue – none more so than Chris O’Dowd’s hawkish Graham Chapman-like general.

The film has a high old time playing with its clash of cultures but as a piece of storytelling it’s all over the place. Scenes crash into one another as if the whole structure was developed on the fly; we even get a bit of Transformers thrown in for bad measure – and not one, but two romantic subplots. Black rolls out his amusing School of Rock shtick a couple of times and there’s one especially comical homage to Cyrano de Bergerac. But mostly it veers between the very mildly chucklesome and plain not funny. Youngsters will doubtless enjoy the sight of a galoot galumphing around a model village, but the script is so dispiritingly slipshod that even they’ll be egging it on towards its foreseeable conclusion.

Gulliver's Travels opens in Japan on April 15

By Derek Adams
Please note: All information is correct at the time of writing but is subject to change without notice.


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