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'Gulliver's Travels': Jack Black? Big deal

Jack Black stars as Gulliver in the movie

Jack Black stars as Gulliver in the movie GULLIVER'S TRAVELS, a modern adaptation of the Jonathan Swift novel, directed by Rob Letterman and released by 20th Century Fox on December 22, 2010. Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox Photo/

OK, 20th Century Fox, let's get this straight: You remake Jonathan Swift's satirical classic "Gulliver's Travels" for the umpteenth time, avail yourselves of all manner of high-end technology, reimagine the land of Lilliput and its tiny people and then set among them a 100-foot-tall . . . Jack Black? Really? If it were Jessica Alba, you could be forgiven. But Jack Black? One hundred feet of Jack Black?

Gotta be honest: Jack Black with his shirt off is an acquired taste. Watching Jack Black's plumber's crack descending on a mob of Lilliputians - in wobbly 3-D, no less - is an image one would rather not relive. But even those viewers who can get past Gulliver's firefighting-by-urination scene (one of the few episodes actually lifted from Swift) will be unlikely to forgive the utter lack of charm, talent or wit on display in what is, in the end, a contemptuous bore of a movie.

Black's Lemuel Gulliver has been working the mailroom of the fictional (and apparently flush) New York Tribune for 10 years, five of which he has spent in love with travel editor Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet). When Darcy needs to send someone for an assignment to the Bermuda Triangle, Gulliver wangles the job by plagiarizing his clips and winds up shipwrecked on the shores of Lilliput, a kingdom where the people not only are ridiculous, they're 6 inches tall.

Having cast a diminutive shadow all his life, Gulliver revels in his largeness, defeating Lilliput's enemies, and then blunders into any number of predictable problems.

While studio projects now seem to be driven by their technical possibilities, even here "Gulliver" falls short: The 3-D aspect of the film is all but unnoticeable. And despite the richness of "Gulliver's" source material, and its star, the film was desperately in need of a fleshing out.

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