08 February 2011

Gullivers Travels 2010 - R5

Dir: Rob Letterman; starring: Jack Black, Billy Connolly, Jason Segel.

You can always tell how good a certain kind of children’s movie is by taking a look at the Radio Times listings at this time of year. The best films – among them Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, The Snowman, the Wallace and Gromit series – tend to be scheduled for Christmas Day or Boxing Day. Lesser films – those tied to toy franchises, corny American ones starring Steve Allen – are more likely to be relegated to morning slots in the days running up to Christmas. They’re the ones you watch for 10 minutes before going back to Facebook or heading into the town centre to buy last-minute presents.

Gulliver’s Travels, directed by Rob Letterman from a screenplay by Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller, falls squarely into the latter category. A gung-ho, proudly unfaithful adaptation of Jonathan Swift’s 1726 novel, it goes to great lengths to avoid any iota of the mystery, trauma or social satire found in the original; in its place comes broad farce, crappy office politics, sappy romance. Worse still: James Corden.

Jack Black plays Lemuel Gulliver, a quick-talking, under-achieving schlub who works in the post room of what seems – especially by today’s shrinking standards – a remarkably large and non-recession-plagued New York newspaper. That’s to say: he plays the kind of character Jack Black almost always plays.

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