There are days where I simply wonder what I am doing with my life. Other people have children and seem to have their lives so together, and I am still bumbling about, not really sure if I am adulting correctly, then a film like this comes along, and I realise I am doing far better than accepting film scripts of this appalling nature simply to make a quick buck. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure Matt Damon doesn’t really care if I hated his performance, neither does Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor care that I think that their story started with a great beginning to dwindle in to a nothingness as they sit in their rather large houses and collect their rather substantial pay checks, but I can live in the knowledge that I am not a) longing for my mate Ben Afflect to stop playing Batman so that he can come back out to play and b) I haven’t completely lost the plot to something that could have had a real meaningful message to my audience.
This is where the true WidowCranky comes out to play. Generally I select films which I either know are terrible and therefore I am happily accepting in their dire nature, or I select films which I really want to watch, but after a friend of mine watched this, and told me it was terrible and their reasons why they thought that, I got fairly intrigued by it as it sounded so amazingly dismal.
There are spoilers, so if you are really excited about this film, come back and read this later… especially if you would like to tell me how you found the film…
This film starts with what feels like should be a very clear message to everyone. We as humans are generating more rubbish than we can’t happily dispose of in a safe way, we are also depleting the resources of the planet, therefore we need to do something which will reduce the impact. Great! This could truly be a revolutionary film… oh wait, your solution is to shrink people… ok… well it has been a while since I watch “Honey, I shrunk the kids” but ok, lets see how this goes…
The film starts with the discovery of scientists that they can shrink people with no ill effects. A conference is held, with said scientists extolling the benefits to the plant of shrinking people as they will generate less rubbish and eat less food. A colony is created to trial the lifestyle and before long, a metropolis is created and the general public are signing up to be shrunk, with the premise that their money will go further and their lives will be dramatically improved.
Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey are a couple with financial issues. At a convenient college reunion they meet up with a couple who have “downsized” and they are now both only 5 inches tall. They talk about the endless benefits of being small, pushing the fact that their money goes a lot further. This encourages Paul and Audrey to investigate the process, and eventually sign up as they are cleared for the shrinking procedure…
Paul wakes up to his new small life only to find that Audrey panicked and backed out of the procedure. From here the film takes a nose dive. We see Paul adjusting to his new life, partying hard, and eventually divorces his wife.
He makes friends with some other people and attends their parties and meets one of the house keepers who he recognises as Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), a well known Vietnamese political activist. It transpires that she was imprisoned and downsized against her will. Everyone else who was downsized with her died as they didn’t follow the correct procedure for downsizing them (for example gold fillings were not removed, making one of the prisoners heads explode). Ngoc lives in the slums outside of the nice living space that Paul lives in, and while he attempts to help her with her prosthetic leg, he breaks it, meaning she can’t work and earn the money that she needs to survive. He takes on her cleaning job to help her.
Eventually the characters travel to Norway, for no real good reason, and Ngoc receives a lot of attention as the original inventor the downsizing process had written to her previously to apologise for her poor treatment.
They run in to the inventor while out on a boat in the Fjords and he announces that the human race is doomed because of Artic methane emissions which are impossible to stop, and that the original colony will be moving underground to a vault. Paul wants to enter the vault, but Ngoc doesn’t want to go.
The film ends with Paul and Ngoc together and distributing supplies to the slums of the small community.
Now if this wasn’t a waste of 2 and a bit hours of my life, I don’t know what is. At the start I was fairly compelled, as I thought that the premise was actually fairly interesting, but what happened was this turned into some sappy love story, with no real meaning or quality.
The filming is ok, I guess, everything is in scale to the small stature of the people, and the sets are fair with some nice scenery shots. That is probably the nicest thing I can say about this film.
The script is severely lacking. At one point Ngoc and Paul sleep together, which she then asks if it was a pity fuck…. later Paul tells her no…it was a love fuck… which scripts like this, why do we need the great literary geniuses of the world. So touching…
The acting is pretty much Matt Damon doing his greatest role of Matt Damon. There is very little to distinguish him in this role from other roles that he has played. You may wonder why I haven’t really named many other actors in this, but generally it is because they are roles which you can see in any other film. The slightly sarcastic, but really deep down caring friend, the not very nice one, the nice one, the intelligent doctor… you name it, the stock characters are there.
What this film is severely lacking is any real purpose. I think it probably started with some very good intentions, and then the producers panicked that audiences wouldn’t watch a film with such a clear message about the way we are. As we all know, people don’t like to change. This meant that the start of this film feels like a completely disparate story to the one it ends on. If the writers and producers had a bit more of a back bone, then they could have come up with something truly inspiring, but as it stands I think this movie just has the ability to confuse viewers as they ponder about how they got to the end of the film which is so far removed from the message at the start.
I could possibly rant further about this film, but instead I am going to suggest that you avoid this film like the plague, or if you are desperate to waste your time on a poor film, work your way through the horror section on Netflix, as at least there you know the film qualities will be pretty bad, and you can just make your own episode of “Mystery Science Theatre 3000”, all you need for that is a robot made out of a pop corn machine and a hoover…possible a spray painted bird robot.
Have you seen “Downsizing”? Were you as disappointed as me? Why not tell me what you thought and I will console you in the comments? Like this post? Why not share it?