Jonathan’s Swift Gulliver’s Travels has been frequently adapted for screens both large and small, starting with a 1902 silent short by Georges Méliès and – more prescient in my memory – the 1996 mini-series version starring Ted Danson, co-produced by the Jim Henson company. As most of us are probably aware from the earlier awful teaser trailer and the Orange mobile phone advert, this version has shifted the story into our modern age allowing Jack Black to make some ‘hilarious’ pop culture references and bring his usual schtick to the wacky antics as Lemuel Gulliver learns some valuable lessons in Lilliput.
What’s been most bizarre about both trailers is that the film seems entirely focused on Gulliver in Lilliput, any notion that his travels take him to the novel’s Brobdingnag (where Gulliver is teeny tiny), his trip to the flying island of Laputa (which rescues him from a pirate attack), Glubbdubdribe (where he meets the ghosts of historical figures) and Luggnagg (home to immortals who still suffer the effects of ageing).
Instead, as this new trailer makes painfully clear, Gulliver hangs out in Lilliput dancing to a miniature Kiss tribute act, playing table football with its inhabitants and facing off against an army of gigantic robots driven by villain Chris O’Dowd (from ‘The IT Crowd’).
With a cast list that includes Emily Blunt, Billy Connolly, Jason Segel, James Corden, Catherine Tate, Amanda Peet, this marks the live-action directing debut of Rob Letterman who was responsible for Shark Tale and Monsters Vs. Aliens and ‘boasts’ a screenplay by Joe Stillman (whose CV includes ‘Beavis and Butthead’ and ‘King of the Hill’ alongside ‘Shrek’ and ‘Planet 51′) and Nicholas Stoller (‘Get Him to the Greek’ and the forthcoming Muppets movie).
I’m consistently shocked by how awful this film looks no matter how its advertised, and I’m surprised to see Black make a film that looks like it’ll be challenging ‘Year One’ for flat out unfunniness (and that at least had Harold Ramis at the helm). ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ will wash up on these shores like a moldly lump of plankton on December 26th and be aptly positioned to be hailed as 2010′s leftover turkey.