Plot: Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) have a passable lifestyle, but they dream of a better existence. But with tons of bills, debt, and little hope of a wild financial windfall, the couple seems poised to remain in their current lot. Until science makes an incredible breakthrough known as downsizing, which allows humans to shrink to a tiny size and live a cheaper, more environmentally responsible life. After all, Paul and Audrey’s assets might not be much in the normal world, but in the small world, they’re multi-millionaires. So they decide to take the plunge and get a fresh start, only Audrey changes her mind…after Paul is shrunk. Now Paul is stuck in this new, small world and feels like he traded one rut for another, at least he meets new some friends that might change his perspective.
Entertainment Value: I love the premise of this movie and while it does descend into a preachy social lecture, I think Downsizing still has enough quirk and charm to make it worth a recommendation. The concept is a cool one, but it tends to disappear into the background often, only being pulled out at times to remind us we’re in the small world and the larger world still exists. But while the culture of the small world still has some elements of the normal world, it also has a different feel and when the movie is able to emphasize those, it works well. I also think the movie picks up a lot once Paul meets Dusan and Tran, as they’re able to inject some much needed energy into the movie and elevate Damon’s presence. Damon is fine here, but he comes off as so bland, so the colorful costars serve a much needed role. Christoph Waltz and Udo Kier are great as eccentric, good time guys, while Hong Chau steals the show as the loud, abrasive, but likable Tran. As soon as Chau arrives in the movie, she really livens it up and her scenes are some of the best in the picture. At the same time, the social lecturing is beyond heavy handed and the pace does drag at times, so I can see why some folks didn’t fall in love with this. But I think if you like quirky, rather depressing movies, Downsizing is well worth a shot.
The movie has several limp penises on showcase, but they’re all in the name of science and seen briefly. No other nakedness occurs, though there is an erotic stump massage at one point. No blood. The movie doesn’t have much violence, though Chau’s character is a sharp, verbal abuse machine. In that vein, Chau has most of the memorable lines in the movie as well, with her hot tempered, no nonsense approach. Her discussion with Damon about the various types of fucks was a highlight, as well as her general to the point, no bullshit perspective. Waltz and Kier are a lot of fun to watch as well, while Damon is mostly milquetoast and forgettable. I did like the strange, cult like feel to the original colony, though not much memorable dialogue surfaced from that. The movie is rich with an oddball vibe, from the quirky premise to the colorful characters, so it has some unique flavor. At the same time, it loses some of that special shine when it veers into social lectures and some of the narrative sticks close to well established tropes, so it isn’t all that wild either.
Overall Insanity: 4/10