This is not a “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” kind of film. This is a though-provoking drama with an unusual comedic undertone.
While Damon’s Paul does shrink down to around 4 inches tall to save himself and help the planet (two birds-one stone) after that the film gradually takes a grimmer route.
At its core “Downsizing” is really about one’s purpose in life along with the survival and destruction of the human race: The intricate screenplay, by Payne and Jim Taylor (who won an Oscar for “Sideways” which I have not seen), is great: it doesn’t take the “shrinking” element lightly, exploring nearly all the pros and cons as well as highlighting the other aspects to surprising outcomes.
After scientists invent a way for humans to effectively shrink down to less than 5 inches and survive: governments around the world set-up “downsizing” colonies, where their small citizens can live. The advantages to this drastic and irreversible lifestyle are huge. Money goes a lot further when you’re small, so people with a decent amount of savings can live like kings. Plus smaller foot prints mean less of a carbon footprint on the Earth – helping cut-down on overpopulation, global warming and the deletion of natural resources. At least that’s the pitch.
Frustrated with his life, Paul and his wife (Kristen Wiig) decide to “downsize”. But things don’t go quite as planned. Visually, the scenes depicting the shrinking process and the small vs. large perspective are done well. Obviously, this is where most the film’s humor is generated.
At 2 hours and 15 minutes, “Downsizing” isn’t small in length. The middle section, with Paul adjusting to his new “mini” lifestyle, is a bit slow but it’s not dull. However, when Paul meets the Vietnamese cleaning lady of his upstairs neighbor (played by Christoph Waltz), things take a much-needed turn. Actress Hong Chau is mesmerizing in this one-of-a-kind role. The best reason to see “Downsizing” is for this breakthrough, nomination-worthy performance.
Damon’s Pau is a shy, mild-mannered, nice guy, who adventures and trials take its toll. Two things that were a bit of a let down: the fable about a small man trying to do the right thing for the world should provide a huge impact but “Downsizing” really doesn’t take that route his stance is more localized. Plus the ending is in no way epic more of a, ok that’s how it ends then I guess.
Rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity and drug use