Sunday, 19 December 2010
Gulliver's Travels review (The List, Issue 673)
Black plays Gulliver, a mail clerk at the Washington Post who accepts a travel writing assignment from the editor he has a crush on (Amanda Peet), and ends up shipwrecked in Lilliput, land of tiny people. After being captured by General Edward Edwardian (Chris O’Dowd) and the Lilliputian army, Gulliver earns the favour of the King and Queen (Billy Connolly and Catherine Tate) by saving Princess Mary (Emily Blunt) from a kidnap attempt. He becomes Lilliput’s official protector, but Edwardian sets out to discover the truth about Gulliver and bring him down.
The script’s endless pop culture references suggest that the film was conceived as a satire on celebrity, but the whole thing is played with such winking self-awareness by all involved that subtlety doesn’t get a look in. Only Jason Segel (Forgetting Sarah Marshall) gives a straight performance as the humble everyman who loves the princess, and he seems to be the only comedian involved who really understood what this film needed to make it funny. Someone who clearly doesn’t understand comedy is the film’s director Rob Letterman, who brings no sense of comic unity to any part of the film: the overall impression is that Letterman left each actor to play their part however they felt best, while he paid more attention to the complex visual effects required to put it all together.
Gulliver's Travels is released on Boxing Day, Sunday 26th December. This review first published in The List magazine.