Last night I saw Downsizing, starring Matt Damon and Christoph Waltz.
In a world where the environmental health of the planet is in jeopardy, a clever Norwegian scientist formulates a solution: To shrink human beings into tiny colonies to reduce the carbon footprint and establish a new way of life.
Of course, the incentive for most to take advantage of this technology is not the environmental altruism, but the personal promise of a life upgrade since money goes much further in a micro-society.
Matt Damon plays Paul, an occupational therapist for workers at Omaha Steaks who is married to Audrey (Kristen Wiig), who seems to be a good wife. Paul cares for his mother, massages his wife when she gets headaches and barely squeaks by on his salary. He's a perfect candidate for the sales pitch of the folks at Leisureland, the most popular micro-community for the newly transitioned.
When Paul decides to go through with the procedure, but Audrey chickens out, he's faced with soul searching like he's never faced before. He arrives in his new body craving a purpose and flying solo, until he meets Ngoc (Hong Chau), a Vietnamese micro-resident who was miniaturized against her will for activism and now serves as his neighbor's cleaning lady.
And this is where the film went off the rails.
Aside from being completely annoying, playing up the Asian stereotypes through her broken English, the movie shifts from showing us the novelty of all that tinyhood entails (protective domes to keep birds/insects from eating you, giant-size flowers, toy-size cars to transport yourself around the property) to becoming a "statement" film about either: the environment, class divisions, depression or cults. It's not sure which, and therefore neither are we.
Smaller (pun intended) players such as Christoph Waltz, who plays an enterprising, obnoxious neighbor, are welcome additions to the mix, but not there long enough to save the story.
Did I mention the film is long too? Whoever thought that editing this to 2 hours, 15 minutes was a good idea wasn't paying attention.
Or maybe they were and hoped the extra time would improve it.