Downsizing – 2 out of 5
Who doesn’t want to be tiny? Like a Smurf or some tiny mythical creature that doesn’t exist like a gnome, pixie or Flat Earther with a brain? Actually, to be honest, I don’t want to be tiny or anything remotely close to the creatures I just described. My life is filled with enough anxiety; I can’t imagine being small and having to live with the ever present fear of being stepped on. Well, Downsizing explores the idea of people taking a leap and willingly become small. I liked the concept of it and had some high hopes thanks to an entertaining trailer but was incredibly disappointed with the final product.
|I wanna hang out with Christoph Waltz. I bet he has a lot of great stories.|
The world is suffering from a lot of man-made problems and some scientists think they have developed the solution: shrinking people so they have a less impactful existence on the planet. Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to take the plunge and become small. This change promises a rich existence but, after Audrey backs out, Paul finds his new life in a rut. Eventually, he meets his neighbor, rich party man Dušan Mirković (Christoph Waltz), and a cleaning woman/former activist who was shrunk by her government; Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau). Together, they open up Paul’s eyes and show him the world for the first time.
|She helped open Paul's eyes to how big the world is and how easy it is to feel small and |
insignifi--oh, I get the film's metaphor now. Well, one of the dozens it brings
in but I'll get to that in a bit.
Downsizing has an interesting concept that builds on a foundation of science fiction and teases at the idea of delivering heart, humor and some commentary on things like society and environmental issues (stuff sci-fi likes to comment on). Additionally, it has strong performances from its lead actors and has some fun cameos bits from the likes of Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis, and more. However, the film seems to be trying to do too much and feels like it is mishandling all the elements and themes it is attempting to explore. The film is definitely ambitious and I really wanted to like it but ultimately the whole product felt like it bit off more than it could chew.
|We got so much Laura Dern in 2017 and the world is better for it.|
|"Just bring the essentials..."|
For a film that is literally about simplifying one’s life by making themselves small, this film really is really trying to accomplish too much with its commentary. At points it’s making statements about how humanity impacts the environment, a different times it’s talking about social and economic barriers and the gaps between the rich and the poor, and there is even times where it is making points about living life to the fullest and talking about human drama. This is all well and good and could have worked but the film can never manage to blend these ideas together so they feel seamless. Instead, it feels like it is jumping from idea to idea and almost like the writers and the production just came up with new concepts to explore on the spot and decided to course correct the feature to cover them. The whole journey feels meandering and aimless and this made it very difficult to become invested in.
|The desk lamp is a pretty amusing touch.|
The film does have some merits in various departments. The entire first act of the film is incredibly well constructed. It sets everything up very well and this solid construction is followed nicely into the first half of the second act. It’s not until the latter half of the feature that everything starts to break down and become messy and muddled. I really enjoyed and sympathized with the plight that Paul was going through and I way too easily saw my own existential dread that I feel toward the drudgery of life in him. Additionally, I absolutely loved the performances. Damon, Waltz, Chau and all the supporting players were great to watch and were doing a fantastic job. Sadly, their strengths alone weren't enough to save this product.
|Man, I have that look on my face 24/7.|
I really wanted to like Downsizing. It has some great things working in its favor. The cast is fantasic, it’s build up and conflict establishment is done effectively well and there is some great humor and drama woven into it all. However, the film is still a mess of commentary and tones that can’t quite mesh together. The story is so all over the place that it feels so chaotic and unfocused. This lack of direction ended up making most of the backend of the product feel boring and it was all too easy to lose interest.