Gulliver’s Travels

December 24, 2010

So strange a cinematic experience I can hardly recall; my recent viewing of Rob Letterman’s take on Gulliver’s Travels (2010) was indeed anything but ordinary.

With opening credits that offered artistic vision and an interesting take on constructed images, it seemed at first glimpse as though this might actually be a film filled with charming panache. Sadly, what follows is a peculiar rendering of crass comedy mixed with odd storytelling and more pointless than poignant pop culture referencing, ad nauseam.

Gulliver (Jack Black) is an immature and pop-culture obsessed regular kinda guy who works in the mailroom at the New York Tribune. Quietly and shamefully in love with the beautiful, confident and successful Darcy (Amanda Peet), he somehow stumbles upon a three-week travel writing assignment to the Bermuda Triangle (after failing to ask her out and by applying for the job with plagiarized writing samples no less). Forgiving the set up and accepting the suspension of disbelief (if you’re able) you then find yourself transported to an alternate reality and the miniature kingdom of Liliput. Here Gulliver undergoes a series of failures and successes in a weak exploration of an uninventive and far from engaging character arc.

Leaving the particulars of the “plot” at that to focus more on the peculiarities of its execution, there is little about this film that lives up its epic title. Aside from its impressive set design, Gulliver’s Travels leaves little to be desired. From a close-up 3D vision of Jack Black’s bum crack to his pissing out a fire, this film can’t honestly be aimed at adults. Not quite a kids’ flick and not even a “dude flick”, Gulliver’s Travels is quite likely aimed at the stoner audience who enjoyed last year’s Land of the Lost (2009).

With a central relationship that neither works nor makes sense and with Emily Blunt either forgetting or not caring how to act, it is nothing short of a Christmas miracle that this film found its way to the big screen. The use of 3D starts off relatively well but somewhere along the way appears to have been abandoned like so much interest in engaging an audience. Unsure as to exactly what it was I had just watched, Gulliver’s Travels left me utterly bemused. Strange, if inconsequential, viewing.

Gulliver’s Travels is released in Australian cinemas on Boxing Day, Sunday December 26, through 20th Century Fox.

Written by Tara Judah for Liminal Vision.

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