Gulliver’s Travels

Last year at this time Avatar was in theaters on its way to becoming the all time box office champ.  3D movies were already growing in popularity, but they were viewed more as a novelty.  James Cameron turned the technology into an art form.  To say there was an over saturation of 3D movies in 2010 would be an understatement.  Some movies were not even shot in 3D, but converted after principle photography had been completed.  One of the greatest offenders of this was Clash of the Titans.  Now, at the end of the year a new movie is competing for the title of “Worse converted 3D movie of the year”, Gulliver’s Travels.


The new incarnation of the 18th century novel stars Jack Black as Gulliver.  He has been working in the mailroom of a newspaper for the last 10 years.  Gulliver is all talk and no action, a man who has never put himself “out there”.  He’s been carrying around a crush for the travel editor, Darcy (Amanda Peet) and on the one attempt to ask her out he ends up getting a travel assignment for the paper on the Bermuda Triangle (a little plagiarizing helps get him the job).  Gulliver finds himself in the land of Lillyput, a place inhabited by people no bigger than Gulliver’s finger.  There Gulliver discovers he can be the big man he has always dreamed himself to be both figuratively and, of course, literally. 


There is more to the plot, but to go into it would be a waste of time, just as it would for anyone to go see this movie.  This is a Jack Black movie where he portrays his usually “man-child” self.  Aside for one or two chuckles almost every joke falls flat.  There are some moments in the movie where you feel like the filmmakers are trying to explain the joke to the audience.  As if they were saying, “Oh, you don’t know why this is funny?  Well, let us explain it to you.”  If you have to go that far to tell a joke you have failed before you’ve even begun.

There are many other elements wrong with this picture.  The director, Rob Letterman, who has only directed feature length animated movies beforehand, takes way too many liberties with the plot.  Many parts of the movie don’t feel earned at all.  To give away some of them would be spoilers, but a smaller one is when Gulliver drives a boat.  He makes it clear to the audience that he has never driven a boat before (he lies about it to everyone else).  When he first gets on the boat he looks completely lost the way an average person would be if they were ask to work on a nuclear reactor.  Cut to the next scene and he’s driving the boat like an old pro.  We know from is character that he would never admit he doesn’t know how to drive a boat and so he would not ask someone to help him.  Granted, it would be considered tedious if the movie spent time explaining how Gulliver suddenly learned how to drive, maybe through a funny trial and error scene.  Unexplained sequences like this one end up continuing throughout the picture.

For the opening shot of New York City something looked wrong with the water.  If you take your 3D glasses off during a movie that was SHOT in 3D the picture looks very fuzzy.  You can take your 3D glasses off during “Gulliver’s Travels” and practically see a clear picture.  The movie was originally supposed to come out this past summer, but maybe it didn’t test well.  Perhaps an executive at 20th Century Fox thought the movie should be converted into 3D in order to make some extra bucks on the movie since it will probably flop at the box office.  Whatever the reason, the movie touts some of the worse 3D effects seen on screen this year.  

There are still other great family films out there, like “Tangled” that is worth seeing again before this movie.  An Ice Age 3D shot starring Scrat opens the movie that is funny, but not worth $10 to see on its own.  During the holiday season parents could end up taking their children to the movies often.  If you feel you MUST take them to see this movie, since they may laugh a few more times, save yourself a little money and do not see it in 3D.