Tempted in by the trailer which touted a marvellous mixture of cute comedy & fascinating science fiction, while with lead actor Matt Damon rarely performing in a pup of a picture, given all of this and the lengthy lead in attention that “Downsizing” was afforded, this little world whimsy was too tempting to resist, but did the promise of this nine year long project become a reality or did the result rather simply flatter to deceive?
Long gone are the days when we used to gen up on a film prior to seeing it in the cinema, as checking out reviews, ratings & the like all too often either clouded our pre-judgement & so subsequent enjoyment of a motion picture, sometimes this research enough to stop us seeing it altogether. Yet, despite being strict in swerving any online content or even cinema listings, it is difficult to avoid on screen trailers which knowingly aim to tempt us in with their cleverly crafted & edited compositions come content, especially when we find ourselves planted in front of the night screen, not once or twice, but multiple times each week, as we have this year so far. Yet the norm with these trailers is a two or three week run in, excepting the odd huge blockbuster, while in the case of “Downsizing”, it was before we went back home to South Africa in November last that its trailer first came to our attention and, through its clever crafted, we pretty much decided there & then that this was a must see movie, each subsequent trailer we saw cementing our decision. Indeed, with Hollywood heavyweight actor Matt Damon in the lead role, supported by the familiar face of Christoph Walz, he of recent Bond villain Bloefeld in “Spectre” fame, although here playing the role of an ageing playboy, these actors along with the intrigue of human shrinking & living in a modern movie twist to sixties science fiction classics, added to doses of comedy intermixed with environmentally friendly ethics, what surely was there not to like with “Downsizing. And as the trailer touted, scenes of large & small lives living next to each other, oversized flowers, biscuits, even vodka bottles, with the characters before & after sizing’s shuffled in to added tempting effect, even the use of the familiar come iconic Talking Heads track “Once In A Lifetime” and we found ourselves well & truly seduced by its charm & promise.
So, with the premise of this motion picture pretty perky, “Downsizing” actually got off to a solid start, the Swedish origins of shrinking humans in aid of combating global warming & saving the planet, actually a plausible fictional plot, while the packaging of Damon’s character (Paul Safranek) development towards the decision to downsize, worked well. Indeed, even elements of the initial shrinkage scenes in this screenplay were both entertaining & quite funny, Walz playing & pitching his playboy part perfectly, but, for us, when Safranek encountered & then got caught up with a Vietnamese cleaner, “Downsizing” took a pretty disastrous downturn from which is was never going to recover, the film digging an even deeper hole for itself when Safrenik & co take a trip to Sweden to visit the founder & the first shrinked set of humans, at which point this mixed up movie was completely lost on us. Now we have to admit that some of the ideas in this ill-fated sci-fi comedy come fantasy were ingenious, the use of oversized products in the little world, wonderfully whimsical, but this was definitely not one of Damon’s finest film moments, the only saving grace some of the earlier scenes, that along with Christoph Walz who, along with the Swedish scientists scenes at the start, effectively saved this screenplay from an out & out panning. And has come as no surprise to us, post seeing this picture in the cinema, that “Downsizing” was, what we call in the business, a box office bomb, takings some $15 million down the budget of $68 million, while director Alexander Payne who cleverly crafted “The Descendents”, a favoured film in our DVD collection that gets regular airings, failed in what was supposed to be his sequel project to that marvellous movie which grossed over $117 million on $20 million budget, these figures speaking for themselves. (DISCO MATT)