A big deal out of nothing. For just over two hours, the audience is subjected to a hypothetical situation: what if people could be shrunk and still live amazing lives? In theory, that sounds wonderful, right? You’d be able to live on much less than you do now; you probably wouldn’t really need to work.
Sure, you probably wouldn’t stand a chance against the elements of nature or even domestic animals, but who cares? It’s a movie, suspend your disbelief.
At least that’s what I thought. But I should have known that this film had more than one downside to it when Audrey Safranek (played by Kristen Wiig) got on the phone with her husband, Paul (Matt Damon), with one eyebrow shaven off, to tell him she was not going through with shrinking herself.
Here’s some context. The film starts off with a major problem facing the planet – overpopulation. So these scientists work on a remedy: how to shrink people in order to cause less waste and thus less harm to the planet. They succeed and even find a way to make it much cheaper for small people to survive financially.
But all of that is assuming there is consent to shrink. I digress.
So Paul and Audrey are so poor that they consider shrinking. They go through the trouble of informing their friends and families and even pick out the estate they will live in as small people. Paul goes through with it but Audrey decides not to.
After a while, a severely depressed Paul meets Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), who is a Vietnamese activist.
She was shrunk against her will as a punishment from her government and here comes Paul to play Captain Save an Activist. There’s a weird love story between them that inserts itself into an already boring plot. But even that is not as alarming as the hyperbole thrust in our faces.
It’s in Ngoc’s super-stereotypical accent. The kind that makes people frown at the audacity of Americans who think they are superior. Even in a nirvana like Leisure Land (which is an affluent suburb for small people), there are still stereotypes regarding who cleans the houses and who owns them.
It’s also in Christoph Waltz’s unbelievable playboy character-turned-co-Captain Planet. Whatever, man. Why are there slums here to begin with? Anyway, Downsizing is possibly the most about-nothing movie I’ve seen this year. No wonder it went through a few cast changes before the film finally got made.