Downsizing

Film, Science fiction
2 out of 5 stars
2 out of 5 stars
(10user reviews)
Downsizing

Time Out says

2 out of 5 stars

Matt Damon and Kristin Wiig co-star in a stature-challenged future-shock comedy that reduces Alexander Payne's bite to a pinch.

'I am big – it’s the pictures that got small,' Hollywood’s Norma Desmond spits out in 'Sunset Boulevard'. Now, 'Sideways' and 'Nebraska' director Alexander Payne (working with his longtime cowriter Jim Taylor) has found a way to make both the stars and the pictures small. 'Downsizing' is a self-satisfied sci-fi nothingburger that shies away from its early suggestiveness and goes as deep as your average 'Black Mirror' episode. Worse, it saps this usually formidable writing duo of its penchant for tartness. Miniaturisation – shrinking yourself down to enjoy a dawning new economy for the 'community of the small' – may be the way of the future in an equity-poor world, in which one can finally afford a McMansion or diamond earrings provided they’re roughly two-thousandths of the typical size. But the vicious satire you have in your head about diorama-dwelling haves versus huge have-nots never materialises. Downsizing your expectations will help.

Payne still loves skewering middlebrow banality (at least I hope that's what he's doing) and, after an early lab sequence that plays like a dorky update of 1966's 'Fantastic Voyage', the filmmaker brings on his best joke: the boyish face of Matt Damon. Damon’s sweet-natured Omaha dweller, Paul, already seems like an uncomfortably grown-up kid, so what difference is five more feet going to make? After watching an old school friend get wheeled into a class reunion in a fancy hamster cage (the guy’s just as chatty and popular), Paul and his wife Audrey (Kristin Wiig, not given enough to do) decide to investigate.

The strengths of 'Downsizing' echo some of the Borscht Belt gags of Woody Allen’s wryly anti-future 'Sleeper': Even after Paul makes the technological leap (which culminates grandly with the ding of a microwave), the doctors in his new eco-friendly luxury community of 'Leisureland' still mispronounce his last name. Later, while working a job as a phone salesman, Paul takes offense at a customer’s 'Don’t get short with me.'

As medium-grade satire (hardly another 'The Truman Show'), 'Downsizing' works fine enough. But it makes a series of wrong moves that throw off the delicate tone, raising the pretension levels to toxic. Two Eurotrashy neighbors (Christoph Waltz and Udo Kier, the latter playing a former yachtsman who purrs over his new toy boat) blur Payne’s critique on social climbing; they’re way too gaudy. Later, the introduction of a cringeworthy Vietnamese cleaning woman and ex-dissident ('Inherent Vice'’s Hong Chau) borders on broken-English caricature. The movie wants to get at bigger ideas about human extinction and the sustainability of 'perfect' communities, but it forgets the simplest thing, which is to show how the outside world would interact with these tiny jerks. Where’s the wider perspective? Lost up its own minuscule navel, 'Downsizing' is a film that gets around to a toothless variation on 'size doesn’t matter,' but Payne ought to know that's the most boring idea imaginable, big or small.

Details

Release details

Rated:
15
Release date:
Wednesday January 24 2018
Duration:
135 mins

Cast and crew

Director:
Alexander Payne
Screenwriter:
Alexander Payne, Jim Taylor
Cast:
Matt Damon
Kristen Wiig
Christoph Waltz
Udo Kier
Hong Chau

Users say (10)

2 out of 5 stars

Average User Rating

2.4 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:0
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:6
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|10
1 person listening
tastemaker

This was an interesting movie - thought it was going to be like a comedy like Innerspace but this turned out to cover quite a few serious topics like the environment, the end of the world, immigration, poverty etc. It was interesting to see prejudices form between big and little people. It was fascinating to see how the movie addressed the shrinking process e.g. filling removal prior the zapping. It was very entertaining. I didn't expect it to explore its version of such serious topics.

Tastemaker

The term downsizing takes on a whole new meaning in this very odd peculiar film starring Matt Damon. Kirsten Wiig isn't in the film for long at all and what starts off well just becomes a confused and boring mess. What’s most distracting is the extra thick accent by Hong Chau that seemed OTT and I think was meant to be funny (it wasn't). Its attempts to address the serious issues of global warming, growing population and human rights kind of fall flat and the love story between them isn’t convincing at all. 

tastemaker

I was so excited to see this movie, the trailer really sold it to me; something light hearted and funny. However, sadly I found the trailer couldn't have been further away from the storyline of the actual movie. I love Matt Damon's earlier work such as the bourne movies and although this was a different role, I was greatly disappointed! The beginning of the movie starts out with a few comedic one liners, but very soon after it just skips from one theme/idea to the next. I think they tried to do too much with it; make it funny, make it sad, make it silly, especially with the range of characters but sadly they didn't execute this idea well at all. I also found it quite annoying how they kept flashing forward constantly i.e. "two weeks later" etc, making the movie seem more disjointed than it already was. All in all, wait for this to come on tv or dvd, it's not worth a trip to the cinema in my opinion.

Tastemaker

Hmm.... the first 30-45 minutes are good, the rest isn't that good. People can 'downsize', and their money is worth more, and they get to live in special little villages. HOWEVER.... as soon as they stop focusing on big v small, the entire point of the story is lost, and it just seems like a normal sized person, so it's a bit pointless. Also, there;s no real ending. If we could give half marks, this would be a 2.5, not a 3. Oh, and it was 30 mins too long...

tastemaker

I was dragged along to this film and tried to keep an open mind. We all agree with the over-riding principal of saving our world. We understand that things need to change but is shrinking to a fraction of our original size and having to dispose of a fraction of our waste really the answer? Clearly the scientists who succeeded with their experimentation decided not. Perhaps downsizing and living deep inside the earth might prove the answer. Who knows? No-one is the answer to that! Christopher Waltz is a long-time favourite actor, but I'm a little surprised he agreed to Downsizing. It is not a platform for his talents.

tastemaker

what should've been an amazing never before done movie soon turned into a "what the hell happened?" ... The whole downsizing thing was such a great idea but it became so boring in the end that the initial theme got lost in translation!

So disappointing I cant believe it.

I felt nothing when watching this and that is not what anyone wants from a movie.


At first seemed like a good storyline but slowly became quite boring. I've found it hard to keep my full attention on the screen.


The only things downsized here are Joshua Rothkopf's critical faculties - he tries so hard to give us a few trite puns and flip platitudes he must be straining them very hard. Don't believe a word of this or other lukewarms like Peter Bradshaw's 3-starrer which he claims the film 'collapsed under the weight of its implications'. This was thoroughly enjoyable, frequently very funny satire, a new spin on old Malthusian hogwash about 'over-population', and stands up very well alongside The Truman Show. The 'what-if' implications opened out satisfactorily and surprisingly. (If 'tastemaker' GirlAboutLondon thinks weird directions or being big are problems, that rules out much interesting cinema, and wasn't it all about ;saving the world?). Great performances too from force of nature Hong Chau and scientist / small-founder Ralf Lassgard (Swedish movie Wallander). Another winner from Alexander Payne!!       

tastemaker

What starts as a delightfully fun, bright and quirky comedy collapses into an overly long, dull and worthy mess that actually has very little to do with the initial set up.

A real wasted opportunity, although the first 45 minutes had me smiling throughout.

tastemaker

I was so, so, so disappointed by this movie!

When I saw the trailer- of what looked like 5 inch people living alongside normal-sized people- I was so excited to see it.

It seemed like a really interesting concept, and I expected it to be like part watching-people-living-in-a-dolls-house; part Truman Show.

People opt to be shrunk down in order to live better lives- their money converts to much more and they can do everything that normal-size people can like travel.

My hopes were shattered just over half way through when the story veered into a really weird and unexpected direction and felt like a completely different movie.

From being comedic and different, it suddenly becomes serious and about saving the human race.

This movie could’ve been so much fun the whole way through. It could’ve saved the ridiculous and serious storyline for the obligatory sequel.

Matt Damon gives an excellent and convincing performance but it wasn’t enough to keep me engaged. I even forgot that I was watching a movie about small people because the larger references become less and less, whereas I found them not just comedic but necessary.

For a movie I wanted to be about little things, it just tried to be too big and do too much.