20th Century Fox
Reason for the Rating: Brief rude humor, mild language and action
Plot Summary: Underachiever Gulliver has faked his way into his first writing assignment in the Bermuda Triangle. But after a storm, he wakes up in Lilliput, a land full of little people.
PopFam Recommends: Gulliver’s Travels is not, um, intellectually challenging. But could be fun for some light entertainment with younger kids.
Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) is seemingly content with his life as a worker in the mailroom. And he can talk a big game, but a new new worker in the mailroom points out to him that he’s really going nowhere because he is just that: all talk. After a dare from his coworker, he gets up the guts to go and talk to his major crush, travel editor Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet).
But instead of asking her out, he chickens out once again and talks a big game, telling her he’s a writer. He turns in a plagiarized writing sample from Fodor’s, and she decides to give him an assignment that she could find no other writer for: a trip to the Bermuda Triangle.
But after a big storm, Gulliver and his ship are swallowed by a huge spiraling column. He wakes up to find himself in the tiny kingdom of Lilliput, where he is a “beast” of colossal proportions compared to the tiny little people. At first the Lilliputians think he is an enemy sent by a neighboring kingdom. But after he saves the king from a fire … by evacuating his bladder on him and General Edward (Chris O’Dowd) … he becomes their champion.
After another successful save of the kingdom because of his size, Gulliver becomes the hero of the kingdom, much to the chagrin of General Edward who would like to be the big man on campus. Therefore, General Edward goes traitor and helps Lilliput fall to the neighboring kingdom. Gulliver for once has to actually live up to all his talk in order to save Lilliput.
Does anyone go to Jack Black’s Gulliver’s Travels looking for an ageless masterpiece on par with Jonathan Swift’s original novel? Well, if they do they will be sadly disappointed. It’s not intelligent satire like Swift’s original. It is what it is: a Jack Black movie in which he urinates on little people to save their lives. Though Black has had great comedic success in the past with movies like Kung Fu Panda, he’s also had movies like Tenacious D in The Pick of Destiny. This movies falls somewhere in the middle…but a lot closer to Tenacious D than Kung Fu.
It’s a fantasy movie, so it may seem unfair to ridicule it for seeming unrealistic, but most audiences, while willing to suspend belief and buy into fantastical situations, are less willing to believe that people will act counter to human nature, such as a woman like Darcy falling in love with Gulliver with very little provocation or that Gulliver can ultimately stop a war by simply leading everyone in a rousing chorus of “War: What is it good for?”
That said, if you go into the movie fully prepared for just a silly movie that doesn’t take itself too seriously, then you might find yourself laughing. It’s dumb, but it’s funny here and there.
Let’s Talk About It
Use these questions to spark discussion among family members who are interested in this movie:
• Have you ever told a lie that seemed to get bigger and bigger? Tell about it.
• Is there an action that you think you should take or that you want to take, but you’re afraid to? Tell about it.
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