The stars of Gulliver's Travels are working the press circuit leading up to the Christmas Day opening. I interviewed them almost 2 weeks ago and Monday night, Jack Black was on Letterman and Jason Segel was on Jimmy Fallon.
While Jack Black, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt are all very personable and sweet in the flesh, the real question remains: Is Gulliver's Travels worth seeing on Christmas Day?
If you're taking your under-13 kids, Yes. Admittedly, on my own I'll see Tron or True Grit (did I mention that I saw Jeff Bridges at the Four Seasons and he touched my shoulder?). But for the kid crowd, Gulliver's definitely delivers. Watching a movie with funny glasses and excellent 3-D effects doesn't hurt, either.
Techy parents may wonder how well these post-production 3-D effects stack up against James Cameron's crazy Avatar technology. As Jack Black mentioned in our interview, a lot of Avatar's effects were added in post, as well. The fact is, Gulliver's Travels is a beautifully shot movie and the 3-D is especially worthwhile in a world where size and dimensions are already skewed between the giant Gulliver and the diminutive Lilliputians.
Be warned: There is some potty humor. This isn't due to cheap one-liner writing, but is actually scripted from Jonathan Swift's original work. FOX actually cut a TON of potty humor out of the movie. Yes, Gulliver pees on a building to put out a fire, but my older son would be tickled to death about that. Likely, part of the kids' enjoyment is that Mom is grossed out. Another warning is the repeated use of the word "ass" in a few scenes. Since this word is allowed on TV and the movie is rated PG, I don't consider this a big deal but is worth mentioning.
Besides humor, there are some sweet moments when Horatio (Jason Segel) is wooing the Princess (Emily Blunt). This brings in some nice notions of clean romance which is sadly lacking in much of today's world. Also, as Gulliver spends more time in Lilliput, there's a slight modernization that takes place. The Princess morphs from a spineless damsel in distress to a sort of strong hippie with backbone. Last, there's a theme of valor overcoming class structure that surely appeals to boys and girls alike.
Is Gulliver's Travels a classic must-see? Well, no. But when the gingerbread men are reduced to crumbs, you're ready to trade flannel pants for street clothes and the kids are climbing the walls, it's definitely time to hit the movies. Choose this one.
Release Date: December 25, 2010
Starring: Jack Black, Jason Segel, Emily Blunt, Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly
Screenplay By: Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller, based on the book by Jonathan Swift
Directed By: Rob Letterman
Produced By: Executive Producers: JACK BLACK BENJAMIN COOLEY. Produced by JOHN DAVIS GREGORY GOODMAN
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Disclosure: FOX paid for me to travel to L.A. to screen Gulliver's Travels and interview Jack Black, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt. While the trip was very pleasant and well-appointed, this review is my own honest opinion.