DOWNSIZING reduces Matt Damon, the laughs, and the point
Before you get suckered into buying a ticket for Downsizing starring Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Hong Chau, and Christoph Waltz, you should know a few things.
1 – it’s not a comedy. In fact, it’s preachy and a little depressing.
I guess I just had the one thing.
Downsizing starts off with Paul Safranek (the running joke is no one can pronounce his name right – tragic) constantly reminded that his life is not the perfect American Dream he’d always envisioned. He cares for a disabled mother who’s never happy, then he’s married to a woman who likes living larger than they can afford, and all around him he sees people who are happy with money and time to be leisurely. Enter the new medical process that shrinks everything down to mini-size, so that humans can live on less land, create less waste, and co-exist longer with the planet. The only thing that increases is money – somehow – so a dollar goes much further.
This all basically means that while people are smaller, their excesses are actually much larger, i.e. larger homes, plenty of land, and large amounts of really small things. Paul and Audry jump at the chance for a life of leisure in Leisure Land, a Small Community in New Mexico that doubles as a gawker’s zoo for traditional-sized people. When Paul finds himself alone – because you see, nothing Paul ever does is ever thought out quite enough – he falls in with his upstairs neighbor Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz) and his super wealthy, super bored friend Konrad (Udo Kier). After an extravagant party, Paul meets a Vietnamese dissident turned exile, Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), and make a few more bad choices that lead to…
I can’t keep doing this.
Look, this movie is kind of a mess. I can’t tell if the message is “never do the right thing because it’ll bite you in the ass” or “altruism is the folly of suckers” or “your white saviors don’t know how to screw up any less than you do.” I think we’re supposed to believe that Paul is a nice guy who does things because he wants to make people happy, I mean he’s an occupational therapist, after all, but he’s kind of not. Everything he does when you get right down to the bottom of things is so he can feel better about the crappiness of everyone else’s lives. Meeting Ngoc opens his eyes to the other side of leisure – the cleaners, the people barely existing, living in the sickness and filth of a downsized ghetto. Instead of raising an alarm about their conditions – you know, like contacting anyone – he quietly suffers along with them running errands, tending to the sick, and collecting food. When he has an opportunity to meet the creators – it’s super hipster, like an IKEA of small people who are content to be hippies with man buns, pretty much forever. For me, that was the dystopian nightmare.
And he’s kind of lazy. He wants to live the good life but he doesn’t really want to pay for it, which is the point of Leisure Land. Paul is never actually happy. He accidentally meets a super rich man in his apartment building whose spacial definitions defy logic. Despite all of Paul’s “problems” he still manages to coast through life on the “easy” setting. I guess if this is a satire on Middle America, we’re supposed to walk away thinking Middle Americans are jerks?
I dunno. I guess.
When you get to the end of this 165-minute nightmare, you really wonder, what was the point? While you’re nearing the end, you begin checking your watch because this movie is all of 45-minutes longer than it needs to be. You leave with a lot of questions, and the answers just piss you off.
Downsizing is rated R for a room full of male penis (talk about unsolicited), suggestive dancing, swears, and taking a blue pill.