A steaming, stinking heap of rotten monkey excrement, “Gulliver’s Travels” is: a poor excuse for a film; nothing resembling legitimate entertainment; and an embarrassment all the way around.
I fear one day (if it isn’t here already) Amanda Peet — once the money she earned from this movie is a distant memory to her bank account — will look upon this movie with the sort of shame usually reserved for parolees and hungover sorority girls.
With a cast like this, it is nigh impossible to fathom the film could be this bad. Yes, Jack Black has made some stinkers, but this one out-smells ’em all. Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Peet. How, how, why, why?
The film is some sort of adaptation of the famous Jonathan Swift story, with Black playing Lemuel Gulliver, a modern-day schlub who works in the mailroom of a newspaper. He has a crush on the hot travel-desk editor (Peet) and plagiarizes his way into a writing assignment in the Bermuda Triangle.
So he hops on a boat and a storm washes him to the island of Lilliput, inhabited by a group of small people, and I don’t mean Peter Dinklage small, I mean “Honey, I Shrunk the Kids” small.
They immediately imprison the now-oversized Gulliver until he agrees to help them win a war; then everyone loves him. So Gulliver charms the populace by playing Cyrano de Bergerac (well, sorta) with the unjustly imprisoned Horatio (Segel), who is in love with the fair princess Mary (Blunt), who is also being courted by the vile soldier Edward (Chris O’Dowd).
Oh, and he also steals some more intellectual property, leading these poor backward saps to believe scenes from “The Empire Strikes Back” and “Titanic,” among others, are actually his own life experiences. Then later he fights a giant robot, only it’s not giant so much as human-sized, which makes it giant in Lilliput.
Got all that?
There are a few pee and fart jokes thrown in, but only the bare minimum of third-grade creativity is used in crafting the screenplay, which could have been clever or parody or completely earnest. I’m not going out on a limb to say that you won’t be surprised by the ending, so I’m going to spoil it here.
Quit reading now if you don’t want it spoiled.
So Gulliver spends the entire movie lying to everyone, including the girl he’s in love with (and who is his boss) and the people of Lilliput. When they find this out at the end of the film, he merely has to say “I’m sorry, I just did it because I wanted you to like me,” which is almost always the reason liars lie in the first place, and they all not only instantly forgive him, but like/love him more because of that fact. Great message for the kids, folks.
The actors go through the motions, none of them trying particularly hard, but why should they care about the material if the studio, producers, screenwriters and directors don’t?
And don’t forget the requisite end-of-movie dance number.
We also get some mismatched romantic couples. Jack Black getting Amanda Peet is the most ridiculous coupling since … well, Jack Black getting Kate Winslet in “The Holiday.” I’ve met Peet’s real-life husband, the super-handsome screenwriter David Benioff, and Black is no David Benioff.
And while we’re on the subject, what kind of magic love potion does Segel have, getting paired with Blunt this go-round, plus Kristen Bell and Mila Kunis fighting over him in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”?
The film comes in a two-disc DVD set and Blu ray set with extras like a gag reel, deleted scenes, some Fox Movie Channel character profiles, and four short features, the mere inclusion of which represents more collective work and effort than this film could possibly have generated.
Film: 1/2 Yap
Extras: 3 Yaps