Gulliver's Travels Rob Letterman

Gulliver's Travels Rob Letterman
Cruelly, if justifiably, bitch-slapped at the theatrical box office, this lazy and unasked for updating of the Swift classic joins Arthur, The Green Hornet and the rest of them in the ongoing process of defining "reboot" down to connote a) "contemporized" and b) "shitty." Here, the platform for Jack Black's leering, po-mo buffoonery is Lemuel Gulliver, a newspaper mailroom tool with low self-esteem and an above-his-weight-class crush on foxy travel editor Amanda Peet. After scamming his way into an assignment covering (i.e., disappearing through) the Bermuda Triangle, he stumbles upon our little friends the Lilliputians, who in this telling are perfectly multi-ethnic, speak (conveniently) a plummy Queen's English at big-human volumes and are at perpetual, unexplained war with the similarly diminutive Blefuscians. After blustering his way to an accidental military victory and concocting for bonus points a heroic stateside back-story cribbed from Star Wars and the DiCaprio oeuvre, the cargo short sporting Gulliver is the big, swinging cock-of the-walk, using his new godhead status to retrofit Lilliput into his idealized, shagtastic mini-Manhattan. All is well and good, and mildly amusing, until the Lilliputian general who Gulliver unseats as number one stud, in the process queering the little Napoleon's play for the Princess (a luminous, but wasted Emily Blunt), exposes Gulliver's general tubby fraudulence. After a brief exile to Brobdingnag (you know, giants), Gulliver redeems himself via (and I'm not making this up) a climactic face-off lifted whole hog from Transformers, winning Peet's affections in the bargain. In theory, Black's preening, outsized persona should be just right for all this nonsense, but in the event he half-asses his way through, ignoring any actual thespian inclinations in favour of a rote recitation of his greatest shticks. Black is like oysters: either you dig or you don't, with either option equally defensible. But even devotees will be taken aback at the blatancy of this Rock School/Nacho Libre rehashing. In Black's defence, director Rob "no relation" Letterman's background is in kids' animation, and everything he serves up – with the exception of the frantic steam punk design aesthetic, which, as in Wild Wild West and Munchausen, reads as a desperate cry for help – is slight, juvenile and deserving of no more respect than Black accords it. By way of extras, the commercial release includes the usual deleted scenes and featurettes; Black fans should have a field day, while the rest of us might profitably use the time to ponder how we've travelled from Swift's masterpiece to this dreck in just three short centuries. (Fox)