Downsizing — 10 Movies in 10 Days: TIFF 2017 Review

The Mob’s Reel has been gracious enough to host Mobster, Curtis Morgan's TIFF 2017 review. As an actor and film buff, Curtis braved this years red carpet to bring you spoiler-free reviews on the 10 films he saw at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival.


Someone described Downsizing as “Honey I Shrunk The Kids” but for adults.  Unfortunately, that notion just scratches the surface as to what this movie really is.  Also, …I’m not sure that the movie itself knows what it really is.  In my opinion, the first half of the movie is an almost completed movie, then the second half is a whole completely other thing, with both halves leaving you unfulfilled.  The notion is pretty simple, yet complicated.  Scientists in Europe have discovered a way to shrink humans down to 5 inches.  This has major implications to saving the planet.  Think “Go Small” as the next “Go Green”.  After several years of people opting to get small, only 3% of the population actually does.  The first half of the movie is about Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig’s character’s journey to mentally make the seemingly cohesive decision to go “small”.  The reasons, the drama, the technicalities, and the actual procedure make up the first hour of this movie.

Not to give it away but something happens at the midway point that turns the main characters new life as a small upside down.  The audience is, at that point, introduced to a couple new “small” characters with scarcely drawn backstories that in effect steal the movie from Matt Damon, not only in their performance, but in how adversely interesting they are.  Maybe that was the director’s intent, but introducing the most memorable character and the one that audience’s come to care the most for in the last quarter of the movie, is, to me, problematic.  These two halves feel like two separate films, but one could not exist without the context of the other.  The transition between the two halves is abrupt, awkward, unexpected, and in hindsight becomes the ONLY thing that allows the second half of the movie to even take place, and in becoming that thing, comes across as a cheap device or excuse to make the crazy sequence of events that follow possible.

There is very little in this movie in ways of character development of Matt Damon’s Paul Safranek throughout the film.  However, Christoph Waltz’s portrayal of an eccentric trade billionaire is delightful and entertaining, until you meet Hong Chau’s Vietnamese refugee amputee who steals the film from both of them.  Her performance in this film is Oscar worthy if they had a category for comic standout performance in the last quarter of a film.  When she shows up, you will wish she was in the entire movie, or that there is an immediate sequel that just stars her.  She, to me, along with Waltz were the best things about Downsizing.

Downsizing gets 2.5/5 stars.

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