Stars: 0.0 out of 5
Starring Matt Damon, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Udo Kier, Jason Sudeikis, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern, Ingjerd Egeberg, Søren Pilmark and Rolf Lassgård
Directed by Alexander Payne
Co-written by Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor
Rated: PG for nudity, drug use and coarse language
Runtime: 133 minutes
Now playing at Cineplex Odeon North Edmonton and Scotiabank Theatres
The closest that I could come to having something – anything – good to say about Alexander Payne’s new film Downsizing was that I enjoyed two scenes where characters had brief and fun facial expressions. Apart from that, I sat through this two-hour-plus screening twiddling my thumbs and questioning my life choices.
My friends, I went to Downsizing so that you do not have to. I took this one for the team. If you were considering going to see this movie, instead do something to make life better for you or others. Talk with your family about the importance of doing something good in the world. Clean the snow off of your neighbour’s sidewalk. Play Scrabble at the seniors’ home. Learn to play chess. Prepare your tax returns early. For the love of Pete, don’t waste your life watching bad movies.
This movie is not just bad: it’s stultifying and stupefying, and don’t let anybody tell you different.
Downsizing is about a scientific solution to the world’s overpopulation problem. Shrink people down to 5 inches so that they require a corresponding decrease in resources to survive. Food aplenty. Cheap living. Energy sources have become magnified exponentially. No more urban sprawl. Finally, you could live in a mansion, and at only 1/3884th the cost. So far, so good, right?
But reducing people to smurfy proportions doesn’t necessarily get rid of all of the world’s problems, one of the biggest of which is Matt Damon. You might think that an actor with abysmally minute amounts of acting talent and charisma would be perfect for this kind of movie. It’s about a very small man, after all. I’ve spent years trying to think of any movie that he would be perfect for. I’ll keep you posted. Perhaps a commercial where he sells body spray, hair tonic or toothpaste …
Still, this movie was directed by Alexander Payne, a guy whose previous efforts (including Election, Sideways, and About Schmidt) are works that I have appreciated for their smarts and sensibilities. So what the heck, Al?
Downsizing, in its attempt to be some kind of social satire, loses its way with tragically poor sketches of characters, an uneven script that seems to simply go through the motions, a meandering and pointless plot, many lost opportunities to play on the size issue, and some of the worst pacing that has ever existed in the history of civilization. Also, it contains a certain American actor with a pretty smile. Matt Damon does not elevate any project by dint of his dramatic breadth, people.
Christoph Waltz, however, usually does. At least he adds some much needed levity here, even if it’s just to smirk through scenes. But that’s just a thin layer of icing on a very large chiffon cake. Boiled down to it, Downsizing is just empty calories. I could really go off on more of a rant but I’ve already wasted so much of my time on this conflated confection. I must really get to cleaning under the stove now.