Dec 24, 2010
SO GLAD I DON'T HAVE TO SEE: Gulliver's Travels*
I'm not one for literary snobbery at the movies and tend to grow very bored very quickly when people complain that such-and-such a film is 'not like the book' or 'traduces' this or that classic. If you have to adapt a work of literature, make it a bad one like The Godfather or Jaws, and when it comes to literary classics, the more disrespect the better, in my view. So I don't want to be one of those people who complain that Swift's misanthropic masterpiece has been turned into a Jack Black comedy. I like Jack Black, up to a point, and think he should be allowed to make the best Jack Black movie he possibly can. In which case: why choose Gulliver's Travels? The plot is episodic at best, hopping from island to island, offering zero possibility of involvement, let alone romantic entanglement, with any other character, or any kind of plot development at all. Dramatically, it's one long solo, not a direction in which Black needs to be encouraged. The only point of adapting Gulliver's Travels, really, is little people. And big people. That's the only point, really. So why rope in Swift at all? Why not just take the idea of big and little people and make your own big/little people movie, one that allows Jack Black to meet Emily Blunt, lose her when they revert to their normal sizes, get her back again, etc. At least that way you don't get boatloads of Swift fans baying for blood. As it is, they've managed to offend both contingents that make up this film's potential audience — the literary and popcorn crowds. Quite a trick.
*An occasional series devoted to the films, books, or other works of art for that matter, which make us grateful there are no laws governing cultural consumption.