Downsizing Review

Downsizing Poster #1

It’s been 4 years since we’ve seen an Alexander Payne film in theaters. His last, Nebraska, was easily his best films. It was a touching father-and-son film that was so beautifully done too. His next directorial effort, Downsizing, is an intriguing take on the shrunken people idea. It’s conceptually a clever idea that should be a good match with Payne’s style. But it is a good match?

Unfortunately, Downsizing is an unfocused effort by Payne. The film feels like two separate films with separate ideas.

Downsizing follows Paul Safranek as he mulls over the idea of going through the revolutionary process of “going small”. But after his wife doesn’t go through the process, he goes through a journey to find himself in the world of the small.

Downsizing - Kristen Wiig, Matt Damon, and Jason Sudeikis

Alexander Payne’s latest is nothing short of a mixed bag. Even though the trailers will make you believe it’s some happy-go-lucky film, it isn’t entirely that. The film does begin with that happy-go-lucky style, though. However, the film changes its tone to something more serious halfway through the film. At this point, the film will begin to go into some pretty dark territories. Although the filmmakers introduce these dark themes at the beginning, Downsizing feels like two separate films.

Not to mention, the film isn’t that entertaining either. Sure, the film’s concept is unique and interesting but its execution is not. The film drags in a lot of scenes and the gags just seem to go on and on as well. In addition, the film has a lot of plot holes and missed opportunities in the film. However, when the film is on point then the film becomes fun and quirky. The problem is that these moments are few and far between.

When the film showcases the small effects, it also adds to the film’s quirkiness too. It feels like an adult version of Honey, I Shrunk The Kids. The only difference is that Honey, I Shrunk The Kids is way more fun of a film. But the small to big effects are just simply amazing to watch. The mix of visual effects and large props makes these scenes look seamless and natural. It’s kind of imaginative the way it all comes together.

Downsizing - Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau

As for the cast, Downsizing is more Hong Chau’s film than it is Matt Damon’s. Despite the seemingly racist portrayal, Chau brings the laughs, wisdom, and heart to the film. Chau is able to bring much to the table without having much to deal with. Matt Damon is his typical Matt Damon self here. He’s beginning to deliver his lines in the same way as other similar roles. There’s not much difference to his Linus Caldwell or his Mark Whitacre.

The same can be said about Christoph Waltz too. However, Waltz is a supporting character and not the main character. So it’s okay that Waltz is his same charming self in the film.
As for the rest of the supporting cast, they did a solid job despite having such small (no pun intended) screen time. Kristen Wiig easily has the best scene throughout the entire film. Jason Sudeikis and Udo Kier did well in the film as well.

Overall, Downsizing is an imaginative film despite its story issues. Yes, the message of the film is something that needs to be addressed, but Downsizing isn’t the best film to stir up talks about climate change. At best, it’s a mildly funny film with a noteworthy performance by Hong Chau.

Rating: 3/5 atoms

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