Gulliver's Travels: now playing

Lemuel Gulliver (Jack Black) has spent a decade stuck in the mailroom of a New York City newspaper before blundering and plagiarizing his way into a travel-writing assignment that lands him, en route to the Bermuda Triangle, in Lilliput. Black's playing a "Gulliver," but while sharing disproportionate size with Jonathan Swift's protagonist, he has more in common with Mark Twain's Connecticut Yankee, an Ugly American who eventually wins the awe of the ancient, rigidly class-conscious culture he crashes by pissing all over it — in one instance, quite literally. Having gained the awe of Lilliput's little people, Gulliver infects the island with imported trash culture, embellishing his legend by stitching together a life story from Hollywood blockbusters and turning the Lilliputian capital into Times Square — or Piccadilly, for this Anglo-American coproduction often reads as a farce of disillusion and rapprochement in transatlantic relations. The opening-act Ice Age short shames Gulliver's murky effects and afterthought 3-D, but Black, looking like an unwashed clothes pile and capering in familiar "Uncle Jack" style, is a good babysitter, his cross-dressing turn in a doll's house a highlight.

 
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