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>> Saturday, January 22, 2011

Be honest, guys. Do I look fat to you?

Jack Black stars as Lemuel Gulliver in Gulliver's Travels - the big screen adaptation of a book I was supposed to read (but didn't) in my English 101 class. In this version, Gulliver accidentally ends up as a travel writer in an attempt to impress his co-worker, Darcy (Amanda Peet). She sends him off to the Bermuda Triangle and dang it, wouldn't you know it? He gets caught in a storm and ends up in the undiscovered midget land of Lilliput - and by midget I mean little people, like actual, tiny people.

The Lilliputians know not of our land (the rest of the world) as they stay away from a looming fog that surrounds their island. This allows Gulliver to use all means of popular culture to fabricate his own historic and heroic stories - usually in the form of Star Wars, Titanic and Avatar. I don't quite remember the chapter summaries or cliff notes from the literary version - but I'm pretty sure that wasn't in there. Also not present in the original novel by Johnathan Swift - the discovery of electricity by the local Lilliputians, giant robots and cell reception via iPhone absolutely everywhere. But lets face it - a modern day adaptation of a 280 year-old novel with Jack Black in the lead probably isn't going to take itself seriously. And thankfully, Gulliver's Travels does not.

There's a lot to be said for what director Rob Letterman (Monster's vs Aliens [2009]) has done here. The usual attempt may have been to do a faithful adaptation of the novel down to the last pantaloon, but Letterman recognized from the get-go that this film needed to be different and that at a certain point you can borrow all you want from the source material, but in the end it's about having fun. That's exactly what Gulliver's Travels is all about.

I am giving this film an open door. While some moments in the film veer on the edge of going too far (and ending up in the same crap-humour category as Vampires Suck), more often then not you have a smile on your face and can enjoy the witty, harmless and often hilarious dumb fun that comes with a film such as this. Speaking of dumb fun, Jason Segal also stars in this film - which should give you a bit of an idea of what I'm talking about.

*Stills courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox


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