Gulliver's Travels: Hollywood's laziest actor, an abject script and useless 3D effects make for a Christmas turkey of giant proportions

Gulliver's Travels (PG)

Verdict: Short on laughs, a huge disappointment

Rating: Turkey

Seekers of Christmas cheer, not to mention ­admirers of classic literature, should steer clear of Gulliver’s Travels, a feeble rip-off of Jonathan Swift’s 18th-century satire, reduced to a succession of lame jokes and a ­drearily unfunny star vehicle for Jack Black. Dumbing down doesn’t come more dispiriting than this.

Jack Black stars in Gulliver's Travels

He's behind you! Jack Black as Gulliver meets some Lilliputians

Black does his over-familiar schtick as ­Lemuel Gulliver, a mailroom nobody who lusts after the travel editor of a New York newspaper (Amanda Peet).

Amazingly, unless she’s trying to make him disappear, she responds to his leering advances by giving him the chance to write a piece about the Bermuda Triangle.

Venturing solo into the Atlantic, our idiot hero ends up shipwrecked on Lilliput, an island ­inhabited by tiny, forlorn British character actors marooned without a single funny gag. Billy Connolly, James Corden, Catherine Tate and Chris O’Dowd all sink below the comedy waves, clinging on to the wreckage of career-worst performances.

Emily Blunt is easy on the eye but equally adrift as a princess who has to pretend she’s falling for a local lout (the American Jason Segel) who befriends the gigantic Black.

She can’t quite manage it and the flashes of intelligence in her eyes make it horribly clear that she knows she’s slumming.

Black impresses the locals, if not us, with his home-made versions of Star Wars and Titanic and defends them against an invasion first by little people from a neighbouring island and then — bizarrely, since the tone of their culture is mostly Edwardian — from a gigantic Transformer-style robot that seems to have stepped out of a movie directed by Michael Bay’s even less talented cousin.

Finally, Peet appears washed up — both literally and metaphorically — and falls in love with Black for reasons that are as incomprehensible as the rest of her behaviour.

Lambasting a literary classic: Fans of the Jonathan Swift book will find little to love in the film

Lambasting a literary classic: Fans of the Jonathan Swift book will find little to love in this film

Maybe she likes rude, fat dorks without an iota of sex appeal or comic timing.

The humour is as infantile as the plotting, and the attempt to make a moral point about little people being important is both insultingly banal and sickeningly insincere.

Black used to be funny in movies such as School Of Rock and Orange County, but here he’s just going through the motions — and ­sometimes scarcely that. After this and the equally execrable Year One, he’s now firmly established as ­Hollywood’s laziest actor.

The low-quality 3D added in ­post-production is a complete waste of time and effort — not that anyone involved seems to have tried that hard.

Having to wear special glasses adds to the annoyance of suffering through Joe Stillman and Nicholas Stoller’s abject script and Rob ­Letterman’s pathetic ­direction, reminiscent of the worst kind of children’s television. It’s a film only for the very young or the utterly undemanding.

If you are already committed to seeing this Christmas turkey when it opens on Boxing Day, the most sensible approach would be to have a couple of drinks beforehand and try to sleep through it.

That way, it won’t give you bad dreams or make you depressed about the future of cinema.