DOWNSIZING is another 2017 Oscar potential film that again doesn’t use its brilliant concept to its full potential. And yet its another film that the critics are wrong about during the holidays. It’s not as bad as critics are saying, not even close, but I’ll be the first to admit its a one time watch only, nothing more, and nothing less. But it features a very Oscar supporting performance nomination. But yet again, it’s supposed to be somewhat of a comedy and I only laughed really hard once and near the end. I think the problem that critics had with this movie is that they expected another Alexander Payne masterpiece and they didn’t get what they wanted under the tree.
Which you can’t expect that from every high profile filmmaker. Every single director, every single one, has a couple of misses as well as hits. Tarantino, Spielberg, Scott, Kubrick, all of them have a film or two that you probably wouldn’t want to revisit the rest of your life. So to expect the same kind of quality with every single of one their films and then bitch like little babies when it isn’t your way and even refuse to see the good in the film is ridiculous and your critic title should be completely stripped away. And Downsizing isn’t necessarily a misfire from Payne, it’s just not as good as his previous films, and that is ok.
And like I said in paragraph one, it doesn’t even get close to the full potential of its brilliant concept. Although I do admit that the story does go in a couple of places I didn’t expect. A scientist wants to find a solution to overpopulation and he finds a way to shrink people down to the size of your thumb, and they make a little giant city filled with these people to help the world not get over crowded and die so fast. Matt Damon plays a straight every day man that due to some financial woes, wants to shrink down because him and his wife’s financial problems will be solved (they say that their $112,000 that they have to their name translates to $12.5 million dollars in downsizing land). He does the shrinking process, but his wife, played by Kristen Wiig, abandons him at the last minute. Instead of a lavish lifestyle in downsizing land, he has to make due with a dead end job with customer service and living in a somewhat okay apartment complex. But an upstairs neighbor and one of the Vietnamese women that cleans the upstairs neighbors apartment enters his life, and things change forever.
The neighbor is played by Christoph Waltz, who basically plays himself in this, but the Vietnamese helper/cleaner lady is played by Hong Chau, who is so hilarious and great in this she is probably going to get that nomination for supporting actress and deservedly so. Her speech about “what kind of fuck you give” near the end of the movie was the only time I truly laughed out loud and had tears in my eyes with how funny it was. The true problem with the movie is that it bogs down in the environment/pollution/overcrowded/world is ending problem and why we suck as human beings, instead of showing a lot of ways why downsizing could solve everything. We see Matt Damon carrying a big rose at one point and we see giant crackers in a giant saltines package, but that’s about all the being small jokes we get in the film. Well this is a chuckle worthy explosion in the end but you’d think with a movie about being tiny there would be a shit tone of being tiny jokes. There are only a handful. Which is weird.
And the solution to all these world problems is downsizing, so why does the movie eventually come back to these problems near the halfway point in the film. I feel that the film could’ve went in another direction story wise and the end result would’ve been much better. The end is kind of cliched character decision wise, making the entire two hour and ten minute runtime kind of a mixed bag. I do give credit to Alexander Payne not going the sex joke route of being tiny, despite its R rating, but he could’ve given us more smart laughs instead of a couple of chuckles and one big guffaw at the end. But he had a good idea and the movie is very watchable, for one time at least. The real problem is that it could’ve been so much more, and with a filmmaker who has brought us that so much more before, it turned out a little disappointed. A solid effort, but it diminishes its returns pretty fast.