“We’re the little people,” Jack Black says to a fellow mail room employee in Rob Letterman’s version of “Gulliver’s Travels,” which opens wide across the Metroplex tomorrow. Black is called Lemuel Gulliver in the film, a nod to the narrator of Jonathan Swift’s savage satire, first published in 1726. Little else about the new version could be considered a tribute, however.
Oh, Gulliver ends up shipwrecked on the island of Lilliput, all right, where he is reckoned a giant among the six-inch high (give or take an inch) inhabitants and honored for his size and strength. Yet the new film lacks any desire to explore the satirical possibilities of its source material or update the story in any meaningful way. Instead, it seems that the filmmakers counted on the combination of live action and computer-generated imagery to dazzle the audience into overlooking the crushing lack of amusing dialogue or interesting characters.
To be fair, it’s not entirely bereft of charm and invention. But it’s a close call.