I feel like the premise of this movie was created from a couple of guys sitting at a pitch meeting and one of them said ‘Let’s create a movie about people becoming small and living a miniature paradise’. After almost a decade in development hell, by the time this idea was greenlit, the idea was watered it down to include condescending liberal commentary, spoken through the avatar of an Asian immigrant stereotype that would have been deemed racist written by anyone right of Bernie Sanders and said “Let’s give it to Matt Damon!”. And this is how we got Downsizing.
Downsizing is a film about ‘scientists’ creating an irreversible procedure called well…Downsizing, which is used as a tool to fight ‘overpopulation’ *cough* Climate Change *cough*. Matt Damon stars as a middle age married man who is miserable because his life has no fulfillment and somehow can’t survive on $150,000 equity in Nebraska of all places. So he decides to become small to start over again and almost immediately his life as a small person is worse than his life at normal size which destroys the purpose of being small in the first place.
He meets a Vietnamese immigrant who survived coming to the country illegally hidden in an HDTV box because this tool that was created to save the planet has already been weaponized by the government of the third world. Why? because why would you not expect Vietnam to fuck it up for everyone. Ngoc Lan Tran shows him that there is a miniature version of Mega-City One where the poorest of the poor need his help giving him purpose…then the film goes off the rails ending with miniature hippie living underground in a bunker for 8,000 years and no I’m not making this up.
This film lives and dies on its premise and dies, it does spectacularly. The entire point of the film is that people voluntary become small to either start over or ‘help the environment’. As an incentive, the people convert their money $1000 for every dollar making some millionaires overnight. As the plot progresses, not only do they completely abandon the setting of a small utopia, but the events that happen to the characters in the film completely destroys the premise they set up in the first place.
For example, halfway during the film, Damon goes to a literal housing project that looks something out of a Judge Dredd comic in order to get you to feel bad for the dirt poor people who live here and survive on the leftovers of the rich. However, 2 seconds of critical thinking begs the questions? Well if these people were dirt poor, 1. How did they afford the procedure to begin with and 2. If they were so poor that even converting their money into leisure bucks wasn’t enough to live comfortably on, then why did they go through with it in the first place? They could have been dirt poor in the real world and now they are dirt poor and 5 inches tall.
The plot is dumb beyond its years, but what makes this film a criminal waste of time is that the film is boring, I mean watching Gumby with no cable on a Saturday afternoon boring. There is no gripping story here to keep you interested because once you have rejected the stupidity of this storyline, you are watching Matt Damon go through the most emotionless midlife crisis in cinema history and BTW the runtime here…2 hours and 15 minutes.
135 minutes of Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor thinking that shoving in messaging of global warming, white privilege, and failures of Capitalism proves they are way smarter than they actually are. By the time, you have given up on this film, they have enough time to make you spend the last 20 minutes questioning what are you even watching and what any of this has to do with the original concept which opened the film in the first place.
The best way to describe Downsizing is that someone took an interesting concept and fumbled it at the 10-yard line. There is a movie here that the audience wants to see, but the movie we got is one nobody asked for. The only positive thing here is the performance of Hong Chau, whose humor comes from speaking in broken English. Outside of that Downsizing is a film that lost its plot the second Kristen Wiig left the film and they decided to go on for almost 2 hours after that.