Gulliver is a waster mail-man in a publishing company, stuck in a dead-end job delivering letters to colleagues who travel the world. But he has the hots for the firm’s feisty travel editor. Passing off some travel writing as his own, he gains a solo assignment to the Bermuda Triangle as a passport to her affections.
Or so he thinks. Shipwrecked on a small island, he’s now the big shot. Because everyone else is only inches high. Lilliput is a kingdom in crisis and it’s time for heroes to arise. But can he get over his own bigheadedness, get off the island, sell his scoop and win the girl? Maybe. First there’s some foolery to be had riffing on celebrity culture, music, film and telly.
That’s the funniest thing about Gulliver’s Travels unless you’re eight of course and prefer him peeing on the palace to put a fire out. Gulliver embellishes tall tales to impress the Lilliputians. They put on plays to celebrate his exploits – including Darth Vader’s ‘I’m your father’ moment with Luke Skywalker, and marvel how Gulliver raced around with Jack Bauer to save the day in 24 hours.
Advertising hoardings glow with images of Black. He blags the Lilliputians into making him a condominium sized apartment with all the latest gadgets. But soon he’s knee deep in a war with the nearby kingdom, using his not inconsiderable belly to soak up cannon shot. Then there’s the evil Gulliver sized robot and a dolls’ house cross-dressing moment (which is funnier than it sounds) that at least shows Black’s not afraid to send himself up.
It’s that kind of movie. Madcap and chucking out ideas like burger wrappers. Still, there’s a cracking villain (Chris O’Dowd) who pretty much steals the film and gets the best-won laughs. And Emily Blunt hams up her own Young Victoria perfectly as the daffy lovelorn princess. Add some dirty dancing and you’ll never see Blenheim Palace in quite the same light: doubling as Lilliput’s palace, it’s weed on, trashed and generally looks great.
Loud like a coke-carton slurp, it’s a gassy burp of a movie. Colourful, crude and with the dodgy distinction of being the first fully comedic take on the book. A boys’ own movie, it’s also a lads’ own dream that wouldn’t happen the other way round: a tubby, loafing girl getting the golden boy at the end of an American film? Not likely.
Still, what will eight year olds care when Black empties his bladder on Billy Connolly’s head? Can Gulliver’s Travels sprinkle something similarly golden on the box office? Now that’s a tall order.