Gulliver's Travels

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Not recommended under 5, PG to 8 (Violent and scary scenes; confusing plot)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Gulliver's Travels
  • a review of Gulliver's Travels completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 December 2010.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 5 Not recommended for this age group. There are some violent and scary scenes and children may find the story confusing.
Children 5-8 Parental guidance recommended. There are some violent and scary scenes and younger children may find the story confusing.
Children 9 and over OK for this age group

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines. Other classification advice (OC) is provided where the Australian film classification is not available.

Name of movie: Gulliver's Travels
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild violence, coarse language and some crude humour
Length: 85 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

This film is loosely based on the classic story by Jonathan Swift but is set in the 21st Century. Lemual Gulliver (Jack Black) works in the 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. Gulliver is 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. Initially 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-found VIP status and decides to stay in Lilliput where he feels he is finally at the ‘top of the heap’. However, he has lied about who he is and what he can do. When he is faced with a Blefuscian enemy that he can’t defeat, he reveals the truth about himself. This is a disaster for Lilliput as they are then 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 sets out to save Lilliput.


Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Shipwreck; war

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • 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 and she turns around and punches him

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under five, including the following:

  • The storm scene may be worrying as there is a giant wave almost like a tornado and Gulliver’s boat 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 and look as if they are about to die
  • Younger children may 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
  • Gulliver is captured by a giant girl and put in a glass jar. He is then put in a dolls house and fed various things by the threatening child. When he refused 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 his helmet and glasses he turns out to be a skeleton.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

Children in this age group may also be disturbed by some of the above-mentioned scenes

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

Nothing of concern

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing of concern

Product placement

The following products are displayed or used in this movie:

  • Apple laptops
  • Coke
  • iPhones
  • Star Wars figurines

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Gulliver talks to Horatio about how he should tell Princess Mary that she is sexy.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • When the Lilliputians pull Gulliver down to the ground, his pants are partly pulled down too and the camera focuses on this.
  • A few very quick kisses

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Some alcohol drinking by adults

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • A misunderstanding over the meaning of “Lame – ass” which results in a general calling himself this.
  • Gulliver urinates on the castle to put out a fire – we only see his pants down and liquid falling on people and the building.

In a nutshell

Gulliver’s Travels is a comedy based on an old story that is likely to be enjoyed by most school-aged children. It has some very funny scenes and the overall tone is light hearted. Younger children may find some of the plot rather confusing and some scenes disturbing, especially in the 3D version.

The main message from this movie is that not having a senior role in life it doesn’t make you a nobody. It is how you behave that counts. If you are honest and brave and true to your word, then you become someone who is valued and loved.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • honesty
  • the importance of friendship and teamwork
  • the value of trust
  • perseverance

 Parents may also wish to discuss the fact that in most cases problems are resolved with violence. Gulliver does mitigate this a couple of times by firstly trying to negotiate with the Blefuscians so that he doesn’t have to hurt them, and then at the end telling everyone that war is silly and getting both ‘nations’ to sing and dance together