This movie is loosely based on the classic story by Jonathan Swift but is set in the 21st century. Lemual Gulliver (Jack Black) works in a mailroom, where he is very much at the bottom of the ladder. Every day he goes through the same routine while dreaming of a better life with a house by the sea. He’s very keen on Darcy Silverman (Amanda Peetman), a travel writer. He plucks up the courage to go to Darcy’s office to ask her on a date, but when he gets there, he is completely tongue tied and finds himself applying for a job as a travel writer instead.
Before long, Gulliver is on his first assignment to Bermuda but is caught in a terrible storm. His boat is wrecked and he ends up in the kingdom of Lilliput where all the people are tiny. At first they treat him as the ‘beast’, but when he saves them from their sworn enemies, the Blefuscians, he becomes their hero.
Gulliver enjoys his new VIP status and decides to stay in Lilliput where he feels he is finally at the ‘top of the heap’. But he has lied about who he is and what he can do. When he is faced with a Blefuscian enemy he can’t defeat, he reveals the truth about himself. This is a disaster for Lilliput, and they are defeated by the Blefuscians.
Gulliver is banished to an island, captured by a giant girl and rescued by his Lilliputian friend Horatio (Jason Segel). He realises that it is not the job title but your actions that make you who you are, and he sets out to save Lilliput.
Here we outline any topics, issues and ideas in this movie that might upset children and adolescents, so that you can gauge whether it is appropriate for your child. For example, children and adolescents may react adversely to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, separation from a parent, animal cruelty or distress, children as victims, natural disasters and racism.
Here we identify any violence in this movie, and explain how and why it might impact on your child or adolescent. In general, movie violence can make children less sensitive to the use of violence in real life. Alternatively, they may become fearful about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world. In some contexts, it can also teach them to see violence as an acceptable means of conflict resolution.
This movie contains some violence. For example:
- Gulliver is tied up and pinned down in the sand. When he stands up, he is pulled down again by the Lilliputians and their ropes.
- The Belfuscians fire on the Lilliputians and Gulliver goes out to save them. The canon balls hit his chest and large stomach, making small holes, but then bounce back and partly blow up the ships.
- The Lilliputian General creates a transformer-type metal man and fights Gulliver. There is punching, hitting and throwing.
- When General Edward threatens to kidnap Princess Mary with a sword, she turns around and punches him.
Content that may disturb children
In addition to the violent scenes and scary visual images mentioned above, this movie contains some scenes that could scare or disturb children under eight. For example:
- During the storm scene, a tornado-like giant wave hits Gulliver’s boat and crashes through the middle of it.
- Gulliver is chained up in a cave.
- At one point, King Theodore and Jinks are stuck in a burning building. It looks as if they are about to die.
- Younger children might not like the transformer, which starts as a small robot (like R2D2 from Star Wars) and transforms into a giant scary robot with metal arms and legs.
- A giant girl captures Gulliver and puts him in a glass jar. She then puts him in a dolls house and feeds him stuff. When he refuses to do something, she pulls the head off another doll as a warning.
- In the dolls house, there is a pilot seated at one of the tables. When Gulliver lifts up the pilot’s helmet and glasses, he turns out to be a skeleton.
Children in this age group are unlikely to be disturbed by anything in this movie.
Nothing of concern
This movie contains some sexual references. For example, Gulliver talks to Horatio about how he should tell Princess Mary that she is sexy.
Alcohol, drugs and other substances
This movie contains some use of substances. For example, some of the adults drink alcohol.
Nudity and sexual activity
This movie contains some nudity and sexual activity. For example, when the Lilliputians pull Gulliver down to the ground, his pants are partly pulled down too and the camera focuses on this. The movie also contains some scenes where characters kiss very quickly.
The following products are displayed or used in this movie: Apple laptops, Coke, iPhones and Star Wars figurines.
Coarse language and crude humour
This movie contains some coarse language and crude humour. For example, Gulliver wees on the castle to put out a fire, but we only see his pants down and liquid falling on people and the building.
Ideas to discuss with your children
Gulliver’s Travels is a comedy based on an old story and is likely to be enjoyed by most school-age children. It has some very funny scenes, and the overall tone is light-hearted. Younger children might find parts of the plot confusing and some scenes disturbing, especially in the 3D version.
The main message in this movie is that not having a senior role in life doesn’t make you a nobody. How you behave is what counts. If you’re honest, brave and true to your word, you are valuable and lovable.
Values in this movie that you could reinforce with your children include honesty, friendship and teamwork, trust, and sticking with things.
You could also talk with your children about how problems in this movie are resolved. Gulliver does try negotiation a couple of times. For example, he tries to talk with the Blefuscians so that he doesn’t have to hurt them. At the end of the movie, he also tells everyone that war is silly and gets both ‘nations’ to sing and dance together. But most of the problems in the movie are sorted out using violence.