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Family Film Review
Published: Wednesday, December 22, 2010
Jack Black stars in 'Gulliver's Travels.'
'Gulliver's Travels': An unfussy, genial adaptation, likely to please kids 10 and older

Jack Black brings his laid-back, irreverent sensibilities to this likable adaptation of Jonathan Swift's 18th-century novel, "Gulliver's Travels." The film is no masterpiece, and indeed lacks cinematic panache, but it radiates good humor, which could win the hearts of kids 10 and older. When Gulliver (Black) lands in Lilliput, he tromps around the land like a giant wandering through a dollhouse. Kids might enjoy that. Lemuel Gulliver has languished for years in the modern-day mailroom of a major magazine. He can't even bring himself to ask out his secret crush, travel writer Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet). On a bad impulse, he submits plagiarized writing samples to her and she gives him an assignment to sail a boat alone in the Bermuda Triangle and write about it. He encounters a huge (slightly scary) storm, is engulfed, and wakes up on a beach, tied up by the little bitty people of Lilliput, who appear to live in 18th- or 19th-century Europe. Gulliver helps the Lilliputians repel equally tiny invaders and becomes a pampered hero. He helps a commoner (Jason Segel) woo a princess (Emily Blunt), much to the fury of a General (Chris O'Dowd), who wants her, too. Gulliver's situation gets tricky.

There is an amusing animated short titled "Scrat's Continental Crack-Up" preceding "Gulliver's Travels" in which the prehistoric squirrel from the "Ice Age" films gets caught up in continental drift.

The bottom line: The battle scenes are not scary, even when tiny invading ships fire cannonballs at Gulliver. His sojourn with giants (where he is the tiny person) is very brief, and we only see one (albeit huge) young girl who plunks Gulliver in her dollhouse. There he finds the skeletal remains of a previous prisoner. The film does a decent job of demonstrating how unacceptable Gulliver's lying and plagiarism are.

Rated PG.



 

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