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Gulliver’s Travels

Rated PG

You overhear your daughter bow out of a previous commitment with a friend. Her excuse — too much homework — sounds a little fishy. Then, as soon as she hangs up, she’s calling a new friend and saying “yes” to her invitation to the movies. When you confront your daughter, she admits to “stretching the truth,” but sees no harm in it.

At the theater, your daughter runs into her first friend and is caught in her lie. Feelings are hurt and their friendship is strained. Your daughter must work hard to repair the damage she’s done. She learns the unpleasant results of getting all tangled up in lies.

In “Gulliver’s Travels,” a contemporary take on the classic novel, the title character makes a similar discovery and must suffer the consequences. Watch the film, now available on DVD, with your kids, and then use our Talk Together and Play Together activities to explore the topic further.

In the film, Lemuel Gulliver is a lowly mailroom employee who pines for Darcy, a travel editor at the publishing house where they work. To impress her — and get out of his dead-end job — he plagiarizes a travel article and gets an assignment to write about the Bermuda Triangle. That’s his first lie.

As his chartered boat heads into the Triangle, it is caught up in a swirling waterspout. Gulliver lands on the island of Lilliput, but he’s a giant among the residents. He helps them rescue their beloved princess, Mary, from the evil Blefuscians and earns the adoration of the Lilliputian people. He tells them elaborate tales of his “homeland” of Manhattan where he is king and his queen is Darcy. The Lilliputians are awed by his stories, none of which are true.

When the Lilliputians discover the truth about Gulliver, they turn their backs on him. Desperate to win back their trust and friendship, Gulliver battles a robot from Blefuscan that is destroying Lilliput. He crushes the robot and convinces the Lilliputians and their neighbors, the Blefuscians, to live at peace with one another. Darcy, who followed Gulliver to the island, falls for him and the two return to New York. Gulliver and Darcy build a new relationship based on honesty.

Talk together

Gulliver seems content in his boring mailroom job until Dan comes to work with him. How does Gulliver’s attitude toward the job change? Why is he afraid to talk to Darcy? How do you think he feels about himself? Does Darcy treat Gulliver any differently at work? Why or why not?

In Lilliput, no one knows anything about Gulliver. Why does he decide to make up elaborate lies about his real life? How do the Lilliputians react to his tales?

What happens when Gulliver wins the Lilliputians’ respect and admiration? How does this affect him? How does it lead to his downfall?

Think of someone you respect. What do you find admirable about that person? How would you feel if you discovered he or she was a fake? Why is honesty such an important trait?

Play together: Web of deception

Oh, what a tangled web of fun you’ll have!

You will need:

• Yarn (one color)

• Pairs of matching items (i.e., paper clips, keys, small toys)

Cut the yarn into 3-foot lengths. Tie one end of a length of yarn to an item and the other end to a different item.

One yarn set should match (i.e., two keys). Tangle the yarn sets into a big jumbled mess. To play, each person chooses an item and then works to untangle the yarn until both people can find both ends of their yarn set.

The player who gets the one matching pair wins. Players will discover that the tangled web of deception leads to disappointment every time.

Missed a Cinematters column? Visit us at Facebook.com/Cinematters and read recent articles for your family’s next film adventure! © 2011, Cinematters

Updated 11:55 am, December 12, 2016
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