Guaranteed to make English teachers weep

I know that’s how I feel. Take a look, at this trailer for the latest version of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels” featuring Jack Black, Amanda Peet, Jason Segel and Emily Blunt, just don’t expect to laugh.

I honestly wish I could tell you that this new trailer for the latest version of Jonathan Swift’s classic has something, anything going for it. However, based on the evidence of this trailer, I really can’t. Nothing funny here. Nothing good here. Nothing.

I’m a bit shocked to learn that this was actually cowritten by Nicholas Stoller of the really fun “Get Him to the Greek” and the outstanding “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” How could it have gone this wrong? Could it be there’s actually something worthwhile in the movie and this is just the worst trailer ever? I don’t remember the last one being much better, but still. Man, between him and the cast, what a waste of real talent.

  

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It’s time for midweek movie news

I used to be disgusted, now I try to stay bemused…

* Yes, they weren’t kidding. Ben Stiller and Tom Cruise are teaming up to make a Les Grossman movie, declares Nikki Finke. I try never to prejudge films, and I really did think Cruise was hilarious in “Tropic Thunder.” However, I think writer Michael Bacall, Ben Stiller, and whoever winds up directing really have their work cut out for them in terms of this not turning into some kind of inverted ego-fest (“look at me — I’m willing to act all crazy!”) like what we saw on MTV a few nights back.

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* A new James L. Brooks romantic comedy by any name will probably be worth a look, and maybe better than that.

* It’s always seemed to me that the best part of the guilty pleasure appeal of “Entourage” — aside from Ari, Lloyd, and Johnny Drama, anyway — is the lightning fast pacing that nearly always leaves fans wanting more. Now, producer Mark Wahlberg is determined to give us more in the form of a movie to follow up from the conclusion of the television show. I’m concerned about whether he gets the concept of why you want to always leave an audience wanting more. If not, “Entourage”  could become the male equivalent of “Sex and the City” in theaters as well as the small screen.

Read the rest of this entry »

  

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“Gulliver’s Travels”: still animated, but forgotten no more!

Right about this time last year, Bullz-Eye pulled together a feature entitled “Animated and Forgotten,” where we shined the spotlight on some of our favorite animated films that hadn’t gotten nearly as much love as we thought they deserved. The piece opened with a look at Max and Dave Fleischer’s 1939 take on Jonathan Swift’s “Gullliver’s Travels,” about which our man Bob Westal wrote…

After Walt Disney’s “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs” became the top grossing picture of 1938, Paramount Pictures turned to Disney’s best known competitor, Max Fleischer (animator of the hugely popular Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons) for an animated feature of its own. That was the good news for Fleischer. The bad news was the studio wanted it in less than a year, and “Snow White” had taken three years to complete. Turning to Irish satirist Jonathan Swift’s fantasy classic — which, strangely enough, had already been transformed into a pro-Communist parable by stop-motion animators in the Soviet Union — Max and brother Dave Fleischer discarded their original concept of using Popeye as their Gulliver. Instead, they went with a conventionally heroic characterization, relying on timesaving rotoscopes of actor Sam Parker. (If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, rotoscoping was an animation process invented by Max Fleischer that involved tracing over filmed images.) The rushed production was marked by innumerable problems, including a bitter feud between west coast and east coast animators. While no gunplay resulted from the cartoony clash, it didn’t help the final result. When the film was released at Christmas, critics were unimpressed, but the Fleischer shop’s visual invention and broad comedy was enough to make the film a hit; animated features were still very much a novelty and Paramount’s gamble actually paid off. A follow-up film, the fanciful musical bug fable, “Hoppity Goes to Town” might have done as well. But it was released on Dec. 9, 1941 — two days after Pearl Harbor was attacked.

Ouch.

Fortunately for you, however, E1 Entertainment has released “Gulliver’s Travels” on DVD and Blu-ray…and unlike the cheap-ass versions that are regularly popping up in Only-A-Dollar stores, this time it’s been digitally restored and re-mastered. Investigate it a bit more with the widget below:

  

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