“Downsizing”–a movie review   Leave a comment

“Downsizing” is a perfect example of why not to read critics before you go to see a movie. Go to a movie because you like the cast or the genre of what you saw in the trailers or, maybe, even word of mouth.

Matt Damon’s last 2 movies bombed at the box office—“The Great Wall” deservedly, “Suburicon” not—and the reports in The Hollywood Reporter and on Rotten Tomatoes and MetaCritic were low ratings but “Downsizing” is a good movie.

I go to see any Matt Damon movie and, yes, he has made a few bad ones (Don’t see “The Great Wall”!) and, yes, the director Alexander Payne who also wrote the screenplay with Jim Taylor, doesn’t follow through on a few deep ideas but the premise is different, there are laughs, there are tears and just how they shrunk a 6 foot person to 5 inches and surrounded them with first the ‘tall world’ and then the ‘miniature’ world is in itself a reason to see the movie.

While the main theme is human survival and why downsizing people will help with that there is also the problem of punishing dissidents by downsizing them and making them poor immigrants to wait on the newwealthy. Paul Safranek (Damon) is the married American everyman who is just gets by and becomes intrigued the more he hears about the Norwegian doctor, played by Rolf Lassgard, that his project of shrinking humans is successful plus he hears from others including some old friends that he didn’t know had gone through the project and has nothing but raves about it. When Paul learns what little money he has would be worth about $12 million in Leisureland where this new species of humans live in a perfect world.

As Paul learns about this new world so do we and we follow him in his journey meeting his new friends two aging party guys, Christopher Waltz and Udo Kier, into booze, drugs, women playing and using them as if they were frat boys. One of the benefits of everything being small is made fun of with Kier owning a fully equipped yacht that he has Fedex’d where he goes to get there before him.

We eventually meet Ngoc Lan, played by Hong Chau, while she cleans Waltz’s apartment, right above Paul’s, who at one time was a famous Vietnam dissident, who now lives in a tenement world of various Third World people who are sick and ill-equipped to take care of themselves. Ngoc wears a prosthetic device, is direct taking no nonsense and spending her time before, during and after cleaning places taking care of others.

Without giving away any spoilers Paul and Ngoc with her bossing him around and they eventually team up with Waltz and Kier going to Norway to hear about the next step in saving the world.

While not getting too deep into the world situation but explaining enough plainly the journey Paul takes from being the normal guy then going through the shrinkage steps, which provides a few laughs, becoming adapted to being rich, taking a dead end job and a decision he has to make near the end is the arc of drama of the film.

Matt Damon does an excellent job as Paul, Christopher Waltz and Udo Kier are a hoot as the two aging playboys but it is Hong Chau who steals the film and has a 4-5 minute bit using the ‘f’ word that, while funny also has a lot of feelings.

There are cameos by Laura Dern, Margo Martindale, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Maribeth Monroe and James Van Der Beek among others while the aforementioned Rolf Lassgard along with Kristen Wiig offers strong support.

“Downsizing” is the second film I have seen this week, the other being “The Greatest Showman”, that have been snubbed by the critics but which offer strong performances by the male lead, with the former also having an award worthy female lead, and is definitely worth seeing.

Rated R for language, drug usage and frontal nudity.

Movie Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCrBICYM0yM

 

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