Friday, December 24, 2010

Movie Review: Gulliver's Travels

I was invited by the fine folks at Allied Integrated Marketing to see a sneak preview of Gulliver's Travels on Monday night. I was so tickled to see it because - like many other families - we are looking for things to keep us busy during the holiday break from school.

When I found out about this opportunity, I immediately set my kids on the task of reading the original Gulliver's Travels by Jonathan Swift. Well, actually, they read the Great Illustrated Classics version of Gulliver's Travels, but it's still  wonderful, age-appropriate, and abridged-length. My kids huffed and puffed and rolled their eyes over the weekend, but it provided a great opportunity for us to talk about how a book and a movie can be so very different.

Texan Papa and I brought the three oldest Peanuts and trekked over to the movie theater which was about an hour away. When we got to the AMC theater, we were ushered into the theater where the best seats were already reserved for us and a few other people. We got in before other people who were coming to see the sneak preview. It was like being a celebrity behind the velvet ropes, people!

Here's a synopsis of the movie, as sent to me from AIM:
In an epic, modern take on the classic tale, Jack Black is Lemuel Gulliver, a mailroom clerk at a travel magazine. After Gulliver tricks his way into an assignment writing about the secrets of the Bermuda Triangle, he is hurtled to an undiscovered land, Lilliput.  In this fantastical new world, Gulliver is a bigger-than-life figure -- in size and ego – especially after he starts telling tall tales, taking credit for his world’s greatest inventions, and placing himself at the center of its most historic events. Gulliver’s position is enhanced even further when he leads his new friends in a heroic battle against their longtime enemies.   Ultimately, Gulliver becomes a true giant among men when he learns that it’s how big you are on the inside that counts

I asked the boys how closely the movie followed the book. They both agreed that the similarities pretty much ended at the concept of Lilliput and the main character's name. That's okay, I figured. This is a modern-day adaptation of the book and I wasn't expecting it to be accurate for this time period.

We did enjoy the movie as a family. It got a lot of laughs from me as well as my kids. My husband? Not so much. But then again, he's a hard nut to crack. I think he was disappointed that the movie started out silly, then moved past goofy onto downright dumb. I have to agree that by the last 20 minutes of the movie, I was getting a little overloaded on the Jack-Black-esque style of humor.

As we piled into the Silver Bullet (aka our Dodge Grand Caravan) I asked the kids, "What grade would you give this movie?" They all agreed: B. I didn't really press them on their judging criteria, but they agreed it was funny and they are kids so of course goofy is never overplayed on them.

I was curious to see if Jack Black would take a departure from his usual kooky, bumbling character role, like he did in The Holiday. Did you see Jack Black in The Holiday? It was so refreshing! He did a great job acting like a grown-up! But this role was not the departure I was hoping for. Still, if you like Jack Black's typical roles, like in School of Rock and Be Kind Rewind and (shudder) Nacho Libre,  you won't be disappointed. That shouldn't be surprising considering that Jack Black is one of the producers of this movie.

This showing of Gulliver's Travels was in 3-D. Texan Papa didn't care for the eyeglasses; I don't really mind them and neither do my kids, especially when it adds so much to a film. In this case, however, I think the 3-D was unnecessary. I've been to 3D movies where you feel like you're IN the action, like you are a part of the movie all around you. In this showing, I actually forgot it was 3D. If you decide to go see Gulliver's Travels, opening Christmas Day, I would recommend saving the extra $3 per ticket and just see it in 2D.

If you are wondering, like me, exactly what can I expect my children to see and hear in the movie? Well, there's really no sex issue of any kind. There is one scene when the Lilliputian castle is on fire and Gulliver saves it by putting out the fire. In the book, he fills his mouth with water and spits it on the castle to extinguish the flames but in the 2010 version, the fire gets put out with Gulliver's pee. I mean, you don't see anything exactly but it's 100% clear what's happening. That wasn't really a problem for us, but there was another scene when Gulliver meets General Edward and the phrase "lame ass" is used 5 times, I think. There's other mild stuff, like we see Gulliver's butt-crack once and he gets beat up a few times, including getting kicked in the family jewels. I hate that all those things are so normal and typical in a movie nowadays, but there it is. Take it for what it's worth. And, actually, in one scene General Edward makes reference to the Princess's breasts, and she tells him, "Completely inappropriate!" That was surprising and nice to see.

I am so thankful to the folks at Allied Integrated Marketing for inviting me to see the movie. It's a light fun movie with silly humor. I think of Jack Black as a modern-day Leslie Nielsen with his signature style of humor that keeps fans coming back for more.

*Disclaimer: Allied Integrated Marketing invited me and my family to see Gulliver's Travels free of charge. They did not ask for a review in exchange for my admission, I'm just doing it because I think my readers will enjoy it.

Texan Mama


Gigi said...

I don't know that I could sit through a whole movie with Jack Black in it. Like you, I think it would be overkill toward the end.

I'm going to make your cake today - will let you know how many stars Man-Child gives it.

Merry Christmas to you and your family! xo

Carrie Thompson said...

in the unabridged version he puts it out with pee. I'm just sayin! :) It was not for the benefit of Jack black! :)

we always have the kids read the books before the movie and they are ALWAYS disappointed!

so sad!

Glad yall had a nice time though!