Oh, the joys of being small! I know all about small things. For example, my audience is a mere 3.5 readers. Don’t even get me started on what’s in my pants.
BQB here with a review of “Downsizing.”
What if all of your problems, and coincidentally, all of the world’s problems, could be solved by a simple invention?
In the world of this film, “downsizing” or the process of turning humans very, very small, has been invented. At first, the idea sounds ridiculous, but then when you think about it, if it worked, it might not be a terrible idea.
Got money problems? You don’t anymore. Can you afford a box? That’s a mansion for a tiny person. Can you buy one bottle of vodka? Cool. That’s a lifetime booze supply. Drive a car the size of a toy, nourish your body on mere crumbs and international travel is as easy as being shipped in your very own, comfy little box.
And what a boon for the environment! Why, an entire tiny city’s supply of trash made in four years can fit in a single garbage bag!
Amidst this backdrop lives Paul Safranek (Matt Damon), a down on his luck occupational therapist who, due to a string of bad luck, missed out on all his lifelong dreams and struggles just to make ends meet.
Downsizing has become all the rage, marketed heavily to the masses as a way to live like a king for pennies on the dollar. When life becomes a daily grind, Paul and wife, Audrey (Kristin Wiig) decide to shrink themselves and move to the tiny community known as Leisure Land, where they are promised that they will be able to live like movie stars in their own luxurious estate, only with the $150,000 they are able to raise from selling their modest home in the big world. Turns out that sum is equal to $12 million bucks in tiny town.
Seems to good to be true? Well, I don’t want to give it away. The first half of the film is devoted to just showing a lot of fun things that might happen if the world were to get small. At first, it’s a concept driven film, discussing all of the ramifications of miniaturization and to the writers’ credit, they get in deep, discussing not just the fun parts but also the ethical ramifications as well as the potential for abuse by unscrupulous characters (one such fellow being Paul’s new neighbor, a smuggler played by Christoph Waltz.)
After the coolness of seeing mini people live their lives wears off, the film struggles to find a plot, or any sense of meaning. Celebrity cameos come and go – Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, etc. A cleaning lady, Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), helps Paul find meaning in his new existence.
Eventually, I ended up hoping that someone would come along and downsize the film’s running time. Will there be a villain? Will there be some downside to downsizing that was heretofore unexpected? Will the proverbial other shoe ever drop?
You spend so much time being wowed by the awesomeness of smallness in the first half that you feel invested and have to press through the second half but alas, like a botched Mexican shrink job where an unshrinkable filling is left inside the shrinking patient’s head, I too ended up wishing my head would explode just to get the film over with already.
There was some potential here and although protecting the environment is important, I think the film starts off with a fun message (i.e. perhaps science might find a fun, awesome way to save the environment) but then descends into preachiness (you’re ruining the earth with pollution and Matt Damon feels really, really bad about it, you suck bag.)
And yes, you are, but you know, I came for the entertainment, not for Matt Damon’s melancholic ennui. If he’s worried about the environment, he can take one less private jet ride per year.
Sigh. I just think like, I don’t know, a more dramatic turn, like a psycho villain who wants to stomp on little people towns or something might have given the film more pizzazz but nope, they just focused on the melodrama.
STATUS: Stay for the first half. Feel free to downsize the second half by changing the channel.