CATEGORIES Features, Cinematical


Did you have a good holiday weekend? If you're Jack Black, probably not so much. In 'Gulliver's Travels' he plays Lemuel Gulliver, a magazine mailroom worker who improbably gets shipwrecked on Liliput, an island of tiny, tiny people, and becomes an ego-inflated "hero" before trouble arises. The film opened on Saturday; our critic William Goss says it is "depressingly dependable on disappointing good taste and moderate expectations at every turn." Adding injury to insult, 'Gulliver's Travels' fared poorly at the box office.

As our own Jeffrey M. Anderson pointed out a couple of years ago, Black has given good performances in smaller roles, in everything from 'High Fidelity' (this writer's personal favorite) to 'Jesus' Son' to 'Dead Man Walking.' Aside from 'The School of Rock,' however, Black has been a disaster in major roles, even those where he didn't play the lead ('Shallow Hal,' 'Envy,' 'King Kong,' 'Nacho Libre,' 'Year One'). Is it the man or the material?

Black fits the part in 'Gulliver's Travels' -- or, rather, the part fits him, tailored to his proportions and, to some degree, his on-screen persona -- but we wonder if it's a more fundamental problem. Are his particular talents too limited or ill-suited to play lead roles? While it's doubtful that any other actor could have salvaged this particular movie, we couldn't help wondering if Black, and audiences in general, would be better off if he resumed doling out his feisty character antics in smaller doses and stick to supporting roles.

What do you think?