July 7, 2011


The era of Jack Black comedies is coming to a close. With Gulliver’s Travels, Black has made his way into the “family comedy” zone and that’s the last refuge for comedic performers. That the film flopped stateside (though it made a bundle internationally) suggests that Black will now be relegated to supporting turns. Here he’s Lemuel Gulliver, a mailroom clerk who’s going nowhere in life when Amanda Peet sends him on a journalism assignment to cover a small island near the Bermuda Triangle. He gets sucked into a world where he’s a giant. My review of the Blu-ray follows after the jump.

gullivers-travels-blu-ray-coverLemuel Gulliver is a loser who wants to be a writer, I guess. I guess because he doesn’t seem that interested in writing, more that he wants to get close to Darcy Silverman (Peet), who he flirts with by chatting her up all the time at work, but can’t move on it. He tells her that he writes, and to impress her, cribs his work. It’s enough to get him an assignment covering a “nobody wants this” trip, where he ends up on an island as a giant, compared to the Liluputians, who are all about an inch high in comparison. On the island he meets Horatio (Jason Segel), who’s in love with Princess Mary (Emily Blunt), but she’s above his station. She’s engaged to General Edward (Chris O’Dowd), who she’s totally not into.

Before you can say Parallel action, Black becomes a hero for defeating the enemies of Blunt’s family, and then puts on plays based on famous movies where he says that he was the leading man. Gulliver so enrages General Edward that he goes to the bad guys who help him build a robot to fight Gulliver. And then Darcy finds out he stole his articles and comes after him. After 85 minutes, the film ends. This much is certain.

Though there are a number of very talented people in this, they bring little to the table. Black does some Black-isms, but the only good thing to take from the film is the work of having people of different scales is done reasonably well. The satire of the Johnathan Swift’s novel is gone, and it’s simply another morality play type kids film. It’s short and relatively painless, but everyone is turning up for work. Supposedly Blunt was forced into the film because of a multi-picture contract, and this was her way of fulfilling it, but she doesn’t get across the bored resentment of Edward Norton in The Italian Job, so much as that she just seems to be doing a little more than what she was told.

gullivers-travels-movie-imageIt seems pointless to even get mad at this film. More than anything it comes across as a product – content – versus anything anyone cared about.

20th Century Fox’s Blu-ray presents the film in widescreen (2.35:1) and in 5.1 DTS-HD surround. The presentation is perfect. The Blu-ray set also comes with a DVD and Digital copy. The film also comes with an Ice Age short film about Scrat. Extras on the Blu-ray are featurettes. The first is “I Don’t Know… with Lemuel Gulliver” (5 min.) a promo piece for the movie that tries to be funny. It’s followed by the film’s gag reel (1 min.), which is one take. I guess there were no other funny blown moments. There are eight deleted scenes (15 min.), which mostly benefit the supporting cast. “Little and Large” (8 min.), which talks to the film’s special effects, while “Jack Black Thinks Big” (6 min.) which walks through the film’s plot. “Down Time” (4 min.) talks about how much fun the cast was having making the film. “Gulliver’s Foosball Challenge” is a mini-game, “War Song Dance” (6 min.) is about the song at the end of the movie, There’s “In Character” sections on Jack Black (7 min.) and Jason Segal (5 min.), a life after film school with the movie’s director Rob Letterman (22 min.) footage from the world premiere (6 min.), and the film’s trailer.

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