Was looking forward to watching my screener of “Downsizing”, which we did tonight.
Anyone who knows Hollywood history will immediately understand my upcoming reference to one and two “reelers” – also known as “shorts”. Forgive me for preaching to the choir, therefore; but for those who might not understand, let me explain that the average “reel” of film back in the silent era took about 10 minutes to unfold. And, back then, these were very popular short movies – usually presented before the “main” movie (six-reelers!) Think Mack Sennett’s Keystone Cops, Charlie Chaplin, and the adorable Mabel Normand.
Also, although the short story seems to be an orphan genre these days, sometimes an idea that makes a GREAT short story, when stretched beyond its breaking point makes a too-attenuated and annoying novel. I’m sure you have all read one of those.
Put those together, and you have “Downsizing”. A movie that could have been a decent 90-minute film, but which was extended, to its detriment, into 2-plus hours. Adding insult to injury, the powers-that-be took a pretty good idea and presented it so ham-handedly and superciliously that this viewer is insulted. We GET it, dudes! In fact, we GOT it immediately! No need to bang us on the head with it. Don’t try to make a two-reeler into a six-reeler. Just don’t. It never works.
Ngoc Lan is charming and oh-so-talented. She rises above the cheesy insistence by the writer/director/who knows upon Pidgeon-English and stalwart “frozen-face”; she is the bright spot in the film. Kristen Wiig is non-existent after the first 20 minutes, which is a darned shame. Niecy Nash provides a bit of fun early in the movie (but how can she not? She’s wonderful, no matter HOW you cast her!)
As to Matt Damon – I have long believed that as an actor, he’s a pretty good writer.