Downsize your expectations if you want to see Downsizing

The film promised a comedy, but delivered an incoherent mix of genres instead

(Image courtesy of Paramount Pictures)

By: Jennifer Russell

If you want to maximize your time and money, don’t see Downsizing. The movie had such a promising, original concept, but it fell apart in the execution because the writer and director, Alexander Payne, seemingly couldn’t decide what his movie was truly about.

     In the film, “downsizing” refers to a medical procedure that shrinks people down to a mere five inches. The procedure is presented as the only solution to reduce human impact on the environment, and as a great way to solve financial issues (since for some reason, the conversion rate allows most to live like millionaires). While this process sounds promising, it has one major setback: the process is irreversible.

     The first thirty minutes of the film were genuinely entertaining, but as soon as Paul (Matt Damon) downsizes and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) calls Paul to tell him she couldn’t go through with the procedure, the movie falls apart. It became a confusing mix of healing after heartbreak, love, politics, climate change, and the end of the human species. While all of these themes have the potential to make an exciting movie, the combination of all of them together made me feel like I was watching thirty-minute segments of completely different movies.

     This movie also fell short of my expectations because the main characters weren’t very memorable. Damon’s character seems to stay with a newfound companion only because he doesn’t want to take an eleven-hour hike, and Wiig’s character was also a disappointment, primarily because she just . . . disappeared. She played a key role in the first thirty minutes of the film and then vanished from the plotline, making her storyline feel incomplete. The most entertaining characters in this movie were actually the supporting characters played by Hong Chau and Christoph Waltz. In fact, the only good thing to come out of this movie was Hong Chau’s nomination for Best Supporting Actress for the 2018 Golden Globe Awards. Although she didn’t win, hopefully this nomination will lead to future roles and awards.

     Another reason I found this movie dreadfully boring is because it was advertised primarily as a light-hearted comedy, but there was minimal humour. I expected to see people trying to overcome all the hilarious challenges that would occur if we were only five inches tall, but the only focus on being small occured in the beginning and end of the film. Some of the scenes I saw in the original trailer that made me laugh (such as them using a bottle of vodka like a gigantic keg) were even completely cut from the movie. Downsizing not only lost thematic direction, but clearly lost sight of genre.