In his comic element, Black a huge success as 'Gulliver'

Funny man Jack Black stars in the latest adaptation of the Jonathan Swift classic, " Gulliver’s Travels ."

It’s a tale ripe for the big screen, and Black’s take is probably one of the best since Max Fleischer’s 1939 animated feature (the 1996 Ted Danson mini-series is noteworthy, as well).

For family comedy, no one can execute Lemuel Gulliver’s wayward traveler like Black. After a few flops ("Be Kind Rewind," "Year One") the "School of Rock" star is back in his comic element.

Much of Swift’s original early-18th century social satire is lost in this distillment and we’re left with only a trite "little people are capable of big things" theme. No matter. Black sells it, and before long, we forget how much this account deviates from the Cliff’s Notes we studied in high school and how little of a plot is left.

Essentially, Black’s Gulliver works in the mailroom of a NYC newspaper where he has a crush on travel editor Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet, coincidentally Black’s co-star in the 2001 comedy "Saving Silverman"). The problem is, he’s got an inferiority complex.


The mailroom is the bottom rung and the "little people" don’t commingle with the editors. Or so he says. In a moment of bravado, however, he lies his way into a travel assignment, and once lost in the Bermuda Triangle, finds himself on Lilliput both matchmaking and peacemaking; and when Darcy comes after him to write the story herself, Black becomes her rescuer.

Though he gets some help from costars Jason Segel and Chris O'Dowd (regrettably, comedian Billy Connolly is underutilized), this one is all Jack Black.

That’s OK.

Black is a marvelous Gulliver, even if not the one Swift penned. His colossus builds a paean to himself in Lilliput’s own Times Square and engages Lilliputians to reenact scenes from "Star Wars" and "Titanic" in his personal "media room."

Later, cast-off to a forbidden land (presumably among giants in Brobdingnag), he is dressed in a doll woman’s clothes and forced to participate in a tea party. It’s comedy, not classic literature, that's for sure.

As family entertainment goes, this one is right on the mark. It’s sophomoric, permeated with pop culture and thoroughly engaging.

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