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Discussion in 'Movies' started by SamT, Sep 13, 2017.
This film has a great concept and then it gets just lost. The story jumbles in fits and spurts with elements that never work together. Characters float in and out and some are baffling by what we know earlier.
The concept: solid.
The execution: train wreck
Second worst movie I have ever seen.
Worst was Waiting for Guffman
Thanks for the warnings. I think I'll probably skip this one.
This is the kind of movie that no matter how bad the reviews are, it is not going to stop me to watch it at least once.
I'll probably check it out on cable but between the reviews & the various holiday things going on for the next week or week and a half, I doubt I'll see it in the theater.
Oh, I would never watch a movie like this in a theater.
I might. I know it’s getting terrible reviews but I have movie pass so that helps with these kind of movies.
I saw this and liked it up to a point, but it's not perfect.
The concept is a big creative swing, and Alexander Payne should be commended for that. There are a lot of big ideas in here. Some of them work. Some of them don't. It's extremely uneven.
I feel like once it gets into the second half or so where Damon begins to work with Hong Chau’s character, it turns a corner. I thought it was really interesting that, even though the pitch to Damon's character was to live like a king in Leisureland, there ended up being poor/less fortunate people in the downsized community as well. That seemed to be an interesting commentary on the fact that even when you are making a major societal shift, there are certain fundamental constructs, such as racial and class divisions, that can't be removed. That was a really compelling idea to me.
However, it takes a long time to get there. In particular, the first section of the film seemed to take forever. Even if you haven't seen the trailers, you know that Damon is going to downsize, because he is the lead character in the movie, and we wouldn't have a movie if he didn't, which creates a really long period where we (as the audience) are ahead of the characters, which doesn't really work. I feel like this could have been shortened significantly and made better by being tighter.
I also don't think the movie has the searing emotional specificity of The Descendants and Nebraska, which were intimate, personal stories. I didn't feel as much of a reason to care about Damon's character here as I did for the characters in those movies.
And, I felt like the romance between Damon and Chau was rushed and not thoroughly developed. In the end, when he thinks he's doing something for mankind by going into the bunker, the movie wants you to think that, in turning back, he has grown as a person by realizing the value of helping the less fortunate, but he really turns back because he's suddenly in love with this woman he's known for what, a few weeks at that point? The arc he goes on doesn't work quite as well as the movie would like it to. Also, the whole time when he was considering it, I wanted someone to point out to him that it doesn't matter what he, specifically, does or doesn't do. Other people are going into the bunker, so if they're right and humans above ground are going to go extinct, the human race is safe whether or not he is with them; his being there, or not being there, individually, is not a huge service to mankind.
Jake's comments were right on.
I feel this was marketed badly, with the trailer implying it was some "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids" type comedy. It's anything but if you follow the journey, or are familiar with Payne's other films. That was a complete disservice (and Wig and Sudekis are in it for about thirty seconds).
I guess it's not a great endorsement, but I enjoyed it for what it was aspiring for, and the journey it was taking its everyman character on, but how do you build such a journey around what needs to be an almost completely flat and reactive performance from the lead, Damon? That's why Chau takes over the picture so easily and will get the supporting actor nomination.
Wayne, I agree. I think that what it aspires for is a good goal, but I don't think it made it to where it wanted to be.
Stupid idea for a plot. If it were possible in reality ,then you wouldn't be able to travel into outer space. Anyway I am not a fan of Matt Damon as an actor so that would be enough reason for me not to see the film. Why are so many holiday films getting the thumbs down from the critics? PADDINGTON 2 and CALL ME BY YOUR NAME seems to be the only ones that appear to be worth seeing .Not interested in the latest STAR WARS film after loathing the previous film. Friends also hated the latest in the series. STAR BORES said one friend.
A large part of the problem for me is that we are not presented with a reason to care about Damon's character. I get that they want him to be an audience surrogate, so that we can project ourselves onto him as we experience the strange new world through his eyes. I get why they would make that choice. But he is not written to have any personality. This isn't so much his fault because he was only working with what he was given, but there's really not much there for him to use. You can have a protagonist who serves as an audience surrogate who is also specifically colored, and this movie doesn't.
Luke in the original Star Wars is a good example. He is an average farm boy from the middle of nowhere who doesn't know anything about the Jedi or the Force at the beginning of the film, and we learn about it along with him. But he also has spunk, personality, hopes, dreams. He's fun to watch because he is easy to relate to even though he is surrounded by an unusual sci-fi world. Payne's writing didn't give Damon any of that specificity, and since we don't really invest in him, what are we supposed to care about in the movie?
I think they wanted to use Wiig's departure to create audience investment in Damon, but it doesn't work. Yes, leaving him after he's already been shrunk is a terrible thing to do to a person,and it makes us sympathetic to him, but it doesn't make us know him any better or like him, because it doesn't have anything to do with him and has more to do with Wiig being an insecure jerk than anything else.
I also feel like Chau is on shaky ground in terms of an Oscar nomination. While she certainly deserves one on merit, the fact is that her film has not been widely embraced. If Academy voters feel that there have been a lot of great supporting performances this year, and they have to choose who they want to support, they'll choose someone who gave a great performance in a film they liked, vs. Chau, who gave the best performance in a movie that has not been widely liked. Somebody like Tiffany Haddish, who had a real breakout role in Girls Trip, might have the edge, simply because her movie is better overall.
I was thinking back over The Descendants and Nebraska, which are the Alexander Payne films which I own and have seen multiple times.
Who wouldn't dream about maybe having a winning lottery ticket that makes them a millionaire overnight? And Nebraska (the film) has such a genuine lived-in quality to it, like you instantly believe that all of these people are real people with real lives, and you're just dropping in. That comes from the acting, of course, but also because they were written lovingly and with such distinctive personality traits.
And on The Descendants, I don't live in Hawaii and I don't have to decide what to do with my family's historic land. I don't have a wife in a coma who was cheating on me. But there is a specificity to that situation that makes the audience able to relate to it because we see that Matt King is a real guy with complex problems, and he admits to ignoring his wife, and while we don't condone that, it is easy to understand why he did it, and the journey he goes on to atone for that is emotional for us BECAUSE it is so specific.
Compare that to Matt Damon in Downsizing -- I don't even remember his actual character name. Okay, it's Paul, but I actually had to look that up on IMDb to remember it. We know almost nothing about this guy. I think the idea was for him to be blank so that we could better project ourselves onto him as we experience the weird new reality he is getting himself into, but it actually works better if we know personal details about the character and come to have an emotional connection with him specifically. Matt King in The Descendants is a good example. There is nothing at all that connects my current circumstances to the circumstances that he faces in that film, but knowing the circumstances of his marriage and his broken family and learning about him enhances the emotional nature of the entire picture. I look at that film and I think, "Even though my situation is not like this guy's situation, I sort of feel like it could be, because I understand what is going on with him and where he is coming from," which makes it a personally investible experience to watch him grow over the course of the film.
And that is what is missing in Downsizing...the human connection between us and Damon's character. It doesn't matter that he's in a weird world; it matters that we have no reason to invest in his journey. Specificity allows things to resonate on a universal level, whereas the more general and vague you are, the less likely it is to land.
I was really pleasantly surprised when Chau showed up with a volume by Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh and I suppose the entire decision Paul makes at the end is built around such mindfulness, so the movie gets a big pass from me for introducing that, but it's all over the place in tone and perhaps Payne just tried to cram too much in it.
Downsizing - a MoviePass selection, weirdly enough the movie that mostly sputters gets a boost when an unlikely character shows up, and wrestles away the film from Matt Damon's character (a cinematic downsizing, so to speak). LOL!
Hong Chau is fantastic in the film, but I don't think Damon's bland character is really Damon's fault. He was poorly written. Like I said earlier in the thread, which I can't tell if you read or not, I think the intention was to make him an audience surrogate, but in trying to allow us to project ourselves onto him, Payne and his co-writer did not give Damon any specific traits or colors to work with. It's hard to make something distinctive when the writing doesn't really want you to do so. I think Damon did the best he could and was obviously happy to be here (he dropped out of the lead in Manchester by the Sea to work on this film because he wanted to be in an Alexander Payne movie), but Payne did not give him great material.
I wouldn't say the reviews have been horrible. Some of the critics I really trust the most (A.O. Scott, Richard Roeper, Peter Travers) all gave it a good review. It also made The National Board Of Review list of the 10 Best Films Of 2017.
I thought it was a pretty good film. I'll admit I had no desire to see it whatsoever based on the trailer. That has to go down as one of the worst trailers in years in terms of properly representing the film. It was only based on the reviews and a few friends who told me it was good that I decided to go see it.
It's not Payne's best, but I still found it to be compelling.
Horrible? No. But most of them have been, at best, lukewarm, and that is clearly affecting the box office.
I think the movie had some really interesting ideas in it, but they didn't coalesce into something that works.
There's no denying that the box office has been awful. It has a 63% on Metacritic which is higher than movies like Jumanji or Murder On The Orient Express,
I think part of the reason I came out of the theater so pleased is that my expectations were very low.