Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Billy Connolly, Amanda Peet, Chris O’Dowd, T.J. Miller. James Corden, Catherine Tate

Director: Rob Letterman

Writer(s): Joe Stillman, Nicholas Stoller, Jonathan Swift (novel)

Cinematography: David Tattersall

Original Score: Henry Jackman

Running Time: 93 Mins.

The Boxing Day family film has become something of a tradition in recent years, usually they are hugely underwhelming (at best) attempts to cash in on the families seeking out a post-christmas treat for everyone from little cousin Timmy to Grandma Olive by way of those pesky teens. Last year saw us treated to something that surpassed the usual duff output in Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes, a film that managed to tick all the boxes while still being one of the years best films. There was no danger of Gulliver’s Travels ever traversing those lofty heights but something mildly entertaining seemed a possibility, sadly it mines much closer to Night at the Museum

Here is a film based upon a much-loved literary source novel, starring one of the biggest comedy actors (despite his output ranging wildly from great to down-right awful) and a support cast made up of some comedy greats, Connolly and Segel, while throwing a few newbies into the mix, O’Dowd and Corden, add to this the writer of Forgetting Sarah Marshall and a few good jokes are probably the least you may expect. Then the trailer arrived, it was unfunny, gave no time to anyone other than Black who looked to be at his excruciating worst and gave no respect to it’s roots as a great story. You may have thought that this was simply a case of a film being under-sold but alas it is everything the trailer was but infinitely worse.

Often when my expectations for something begin low I find myself having a surprisingly more enjoyable experience than anticipated, not this time, if anything Gulliver’s Travels was worse than expected, no mean feat as you may have guessed. It is hard to know where to place the blame, Black himself seems a sensible place to start, offering a turn that is annoying when it should be funny and detestable when it should be endearing, given controlled direction and a script to boot Black and his particular brand of improv work a charm (School of Rock, Tropic Thunder) but when allowed to run amok as he is here the director is fighting a losing battle.

Though fundamentally this isn’t the main issue with Gulliver’s Travels, no, that would be the fact that the story itself really is not a fit for the kind of family friendly farce starring Black and filled with pee and poo jokes that we have hacked together before us. There is space for awe, wonder and a charming tale to be moulded from Swift’s novel, none of these aspects have been exploited. The effects are passable though not helped by a yet another poor 3D conversion and scenes jump erratically from one to another giving no single character time to grow or at the very least provide a laugh or two.

Like the Night at the Museum franchise here is a film stuffed full of comedy talent yet fails to give any of them anything remotely funny to do, quite why Segel chose to play second fiddle in something this weak is shocking given his star should be on the rise not flailing around Black’s feet singing Prince songs. It seems a moot point to say the “acting” is cringeworthy with every scene seemingly shunted together in an attempt to find some kind of plot line however flimsy each one may be…and don’t even start me on the bookend scenes and the supposed love stories between Peet/Black and Segel/Blunt, it wouldn’t matter tat they don’t convince if either were given any time amidst the years weakest run of “jokes” and a completely out-of-place battle with a rejected robot from Transformers. A late contender for the years worst film, I’d say so.

VERDICT

Gulliver’s Travels is downright awful, simply put it is weak, unfunny and a waste of talent, Jack Black should hang his head in shame and as for those who allowed the title to be used, shame on you…Jonathan Swift will be turning in his grave!

 

 

 

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