Let me start off by saying – I get it, I am all for saving the planet, Mother nature is screaming at us to do something about our continuous battering of her Earthly resources and it doesn’t help that the most powerful man in the world at the moment is childishly refusing to believe such problems even exist; probably the same way an eight year old would argue that crisps are vegetables. I also agree that there is a serious lack of justice regarding those with more money than can be spent in a lifetime, and those with no personal property other than the worn-torn clothes on their backs. I get it, I understand and I’m all for doing something about it – that does not mean, however, that a film cannot fall utterly flat on its face and fail in its handling and presentation of such real world issues, and ladies and gentlemen – Downsizing failed hard!
Matt Damon plays an average Joe who notices his life is lacking in momentum, the world around him is stale and his financial troubles certainly aren’t helping the situation, BUT luckily for him this story takes place in an alternate reality where it is possible to get yourself shrunken down to five inches tall, thus allowing the population to produce less waste and ultimately save the planet. Add that to the fact that a loophole allows those who “downsize” to recalculate their current savings into a much larger sum, effectively making everyone who goes through the procedure into a multi-millionaire, this seems like a good way out for poor little Matt and Kristen Wiig who plays his wife.
Doesn’t quite all go to plan though, does it? After Damon finishes going through the very irreversible procedure he receives a call from his wife telling him she got cold feet at the last minute and plans on leaving him – whoops. They divorce, his wealth is liquidated and his only hope for salvation becomes helping out a Vietnamese political activist who was downsized against her will and spends her time cleaning houses and helping other poor people who had no value to increase in the first place. Is this film a comedy? I’m not sure, it has moments peppered throughout that are passingly funny I suppose, for a while anyway. Is it a drama? No, it’s too whacky and quirky for that? Political satire? Social commentary? Good grief, what is this thing?
I actually know full well what it is – it’s long, so very, very… VERY long! Compared to other films I’ve seen and enjoyed, two hours and 15 minutes doesn’t seem like all that much really, but length and pacing are two very different things and the sigh of relief I unleashed when the credits began to roll was loud enough to rival the one I released when Transformers 5 finally ended, Downsizing isn’t quite as bad as that but it is equally boring. I want to admire it for wanting to bring attention to planetary issues and social injustice but it handles them so poorly I started to wonder if they were only a last minute thing in a desperate attempt to add some depth where they felt it was missing, that probably isn’t the case but it sure as hell feels like it; it all feels very tacked on, sloppy and pretentious.
When it tries to handle these themes, it stops trying to be funny and becomes dull, it wasn’t very funny before but at least it was coming close, after it stops trying it feels like no other effort is really being made towards anything else, it’s dedicating time to its message but we’ve already established that its themes don’t work so the time it spends on them just feels wasted and contributes to little more than increasing the overall length. Not to mention its narrative feels comprised of scenes, scenarios and happenings we have seen and many other movies, the main character always has to get high at some point and have a freaky trip, get into an awkward exchange with a customer at his workplace, experience an epiphany when he comes across someone not as well off as he is, the list goes on as long as the actual movie does.
The special effects on those who are downsized are far from convincing, much of the dialogue wants to be quirky and cute but mostly comes off as awkward and embarrassing, the world building is interesting and the film never does anything truly offensive but it’s just such a long and boring waste of time I struggle not to refer to it as terrible. It’s themes are handled bad enough to contribute only to a bloated length which wouldn’t be as much of a problem if the film were able to offer up anything else to concentrate on but it doesn’t, the cinematography is unremarkable, the score is uninspired, I can’t stress how terrible its message is handled and it’s just… so… BORING!