Downsizing review: Dink shrunky

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Chad White
Loves: Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Christoph Waltz
Likes: Matt Damon, making Earth better
Dislikes: Shrunken penises, Bald Matt Damon
Hates: Climate change

Downsizing is about saving yourself.

A two and some change hour comedy about shrinking people to save the environment is bound to have its issues. Besides the egregious length, the message – while well intended – is muddied by the science it puts forth. Where other movies (like the Matt Damon led “comedy” The Martian) would back up their equations with notes, Downsizing wants you to accept everything that happens. That’d be well and good if the movie wasn’t filled with bravado about fixing everything.

That trait is attributed moreso to Damon’s Paul Safranek who believes he can fix every problem introduced into his life. And he has a lot of them too. His wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig), leaves him when the two decide to do the shrinking procedure. He’s forced to work a terrible desk job. And his dating life is as bland as his new modern design apartment. He eventually finds solace in friends like Christoph Waltz’s Gatsby-esque Dusan Mirkovic and Hong Chau’s Ngoc Lan Tran only to fall in love with the latter.

One of Downsizing’s biggest faults is its unreasonable jumps from environmental drama to personal drama to comedy. Its identity is shrouded behind dry jokes and straightforward information regarding methane gasses and the like. Director/writer Alexander Payne (The Descendants) and co-writer Jim Taylor (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) look to have put a majority of their initial first draft ideas into the final script. Long stretches without laughs and even longer scenes beg the question “Why is this still in the movie?” A party scene with no end in sight and an extended act in Norway outstay their welcome. But there are a lot of enjoyable parts. The banter between Damon and Chau is a good watch. Waltz is fun in his loose role as horny foreign guy. Novel science fiction is always interesting to see done. It’s just a shame all of this comes in a bloated package.

Should you watch Downsizing?

Downsizing is funny at points and provocative at others. But its length and threadbare nature leave it rungs below its comedy ladder high point.

Notes

  • This is Matt Damon’s second flop of the year, right behind The Great Wall. Both involve Asian people. I think someone has a fetish.
  • I saw this as a double feature with All The Money In The World on Christmas. Too many people were at both movies for me to full enjoy everything. But I liked both movies in the end.
  • Two hours and fifteen minutes is entirely too long for a comedy. There’s a point where the characters go to Norway in the third act. I had to check my watch and ask myself “Do they really have time for this?” And then they proceeded to spend the fourth act there. They did indeed not have time for this.
  • The cameos include James Van Der Beek, Margo Martindale, Niecy Nash, Donna Lynne Champlin, Neil Patrick Harris and Laura Dern. Jason Sudeikis is in a supporting role that is seemingly forgotten after two scenes.
  • There are right ways and wrong ways to do time jumps in movies. Downsizing threw caution to the wind when it jumped on three separate occasions.