Checked out the new Matt Damon flick Downsizing… a mis-marketed sci-fi comedy or satire or something about shrinking people to save the world. It’s not much of a comedy… though it is a satire… and the trailers are really not being very up-front about what it is. But maybe that’s because the movie is “about” five different things so how do you market that?
The basic premise is that scientists have found a way to shrink people in order to help an overpopulated Earth use fewer resources. Your money goes a lot further when everything you buy is tiny… so your nest egg that buys you a small home buys you a mansion in the small world. And, hey, you save the world while you’re at it.
The film follows Matt Damon’s character before, during, and after the shrinking process. It shows how he adapts – and everyone else is adapting – to the new small world. This portion of the movie is a bit of a satire about consumption and the limited things we do to save the Earth. As in, do we actually change our lifestyles or do we just make a small change that allows us to live even larger without changing our conspicuous consumption. So it’s a bit of social satire.
And then the movie points out that, even in our tiny mansions, someone has to clean the floors. So we get some political commentary about how other countries might use the technology on their unwanted and how Americans would take advantage of a tiny workforce. And then the movie wants to be about the end of world and how we deal with it. And it has a couple more themes on top of that.
The movie is all over the place and is occasionally funny. I was always interested in where it was going but it was a bit shaggy getting there. I respected it though since it was telling a full, complete story and following the threads it was putting down. One thing the movie is NOT though is outrageously funny and it doesn’t do as many visual gags as it could given the scenario. Nor does it give typical “shrinking people” type scenarios like giant insects or spiders (even when it would have made logical sense).
It’s an uneven, sometimes unfocused film but I found it interesting even as it unwound itself slowly… probably too slowly for a mainstream audience. I was compelled to keep watching even though I recognize it’s flaws. I kind of recommend it though. It’s not the movie they are advertising and it occasionally preachy, but it’s heart is in the right place and it dares to tell a complete, detailed story.
Score: 80

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