Don't expect the modern update of Gulliver's Travels to be true to the centuries old tale, as the story by Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller goes for broke in making this one light comedic affair suitable for the whole family. Meaning it's for the broadest common denominator to enjoy in a festive outing during this holiday season without worrying too much about nasty plot gymnastics, gory violence or sexual innuendos, being utterly effects laden (quality is questionable though) and in the gimmick of 3D without exploiting that medium properly.
Jack Black plays LLemuel Gulliver as a big man with big dreams but small on the confidence front, which spells disaster in many ways, being stuck in a mailroom job for a decade, delivering office memos within the New York Tribune, and lacking the courage to do anything more than admire his infatuation Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peet), the editor for the travel desk, from afar. Deciding to seize an opportunity based on a whim and a lie, Darcy assigns him to the Bermudas for a story, and Gulliver ends up going through a magical water spout, ending up in the land of Lilliput where his size becomes an issue for the Lilliudians who ropes him down (probably the only reference true to the original story) and imprisons him as an enemy. But as things go, he soon gains the trust of the little people, who begin to worship him as an awesome deity who can keep their enemies at bay.
And Jack Black being Jack Black, plays with relish the ultimate Star Wars fanboy with plenty of references to the franchise and other pop culture, especially music which has a large role in the film from being employed as a lyrical tool to assist Horatio (Jason Segel) in wooing the woman of his dreams, Princess Mary (Emily Blunt), to spreading the message of anti-war through the song War, which in any case stuck out like a sore thumb in the way the story got developed.
Family friendliness for the young ones will mean themes like believing in yourself, never giving up, the dangers of lying and such make their obligatory presence felt. And as if to up the comedic quotient, the Lilliputians speaketh funnily, behaving strangely and dressed up as if stuck in a time warp to the medieval ages, with kings and queens and castles to upkeep, with their skill as fantastic builders stretching the imagination akin to possessing some magical qualities. Enemies and villains also do not do much except scowl, and Chris O'Dowd's General Edward overacts in his role en route to becoming Gulliver's arch rival suited up in a metal piece that Iron Man would be proud.
Director Rob Letterman had shown some potential with the animated flick Shark Tale, before the 3D disaster of Monsters vs Aliens which promised potential went unfulfilled, becoming that mediocre animated film that wasn't funny despite having a roster of comedians in lead roles. There isn't much to wow about with this version of Gulliver's Travels, since the story goes smooth sailing without tossing up any surprises, and the verdict is a plain vanilla version that could have been done without.