‘Downsizing’ makes prescient points, but they’re half-baked, and it
needed to be sillier
Gregory WakemanPosted on
Director: Alexander Payne
Starring: Matt Damon, Hong Chau, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis, Maribeth Monroe
2.5 (Out Of 5) Globes
Plot: In Norway, a group of scientists discover a way to shrink humans down to the size of just 5 inches, which is quickly labelled as a solution to over-population. Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kirsten Wiig) decide to go through with the procedure, and they are soon confronted with an abundance of challenges in this completely new world. Other inhabitants of this miniature world include their old high school friend Dave Johnson (Jason Sudeikis), the care-free Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz), and Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), a Vietnamese activist that has been shrunk against her will by the government.
Review: For most of “Downsizing” you barely even notice that its characters are small. And considering that it doesn’t have much else to offer that’s a big problem. Because “Downsizing” is written by Jim Taylor and Alexander Payne there are still the odd moments of humor and enlightenment to elevate proceedings. But those don’t elicit anything more than a shrug of acknowledgment. Sure, Payne sets things up with a smooth patience that’s actually inviting, but it never actually has an emphatic scene or revelation where its themes and message spark into life. From time to time there are slapstick silly moments that show what “Downsizing” could have been like, but it spends too much time trying to educate us about its admittedly prescient points than actually entertaining. Ultimately, it all feels like a wasted opportunity, as we’ve seen much better from Payne, Damon, Wiig, Waltz, and Sudeikis. Especially as they’re all eclipsed by Hong Chau, whose supporting performance really does chime, and the film’s most impactful moments come through her. It’s just a shame that there’s just nowhere near enough of them.