Scientists have determined that the greatest threat to the planet is people. People are depleting resources and doing irreparable harm to the environment. In an effort to thwart the effects of humans on the planet,a pair of scientists from Norway, Dr. Jorgen Asbjørnsen (Rolf Lassgård) and Dr. Andreas Jacobsen (Søren Pilmark), have perfected a process to shrink humans to a fraction of their size, now commonly referred to as downsizing. Not only does this translate into a smaller impact on the Earth, but those who downsize find themselves insanely rich after they sell off their full sized items for much smaller versions.
Frustrated with where his life is headed and wracked with debt, Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) convinces his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) they should go through with the downsizing process. When Paul Meets Dusan (Christoph Waltz) and Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), the only survivor of a group of Vietnamese refugees who were shrunk against their will by their government Paul’s life is changed in ways he could never have imagined.
Downsizing had potential. It is an interesting concept, but the execution was sadly lacking.
Matt Damon has shown he can walk the line between comedy and seriousness expertly. If you have seen The Martian, you have seen him at his best in this type of role. Downsizing puts him in a similar place, but lacks the finesse The Martian had. I put the majority of the blame on the script. Hong Chau toes the line between a stereotypical Asian character and a serious role. I felt a little uncomfortable watching her on screen as they played up the character a little too much. Christoph Waltz steals the movie. His comedic timing and delivery is excellent, as always. He carries every scene he is in. On the flip side, Jason Sudeikis doesn’t get a chance to show just how funny he is. He is relegated to what is essentially an extended cameo. I was disappointed we didn’t see more of him. Kristen Wiig, as Paul’s wife, is similarly wasted.
The story had promise. To thwart our effect on the planet, humans were shrunk down to just a few inches tall. This sets up the potential for all kinds of sight gags and/or conflicts with full-sized people. None of this ever materializes. Once we enter the land of the downsized, we never really hear about the normal world again. It is mentioned in passing, but nothing more. The film also can’t decide if it’s a comedy, a faith film, a drama, or a disaster film. Instead, it wanders aimlessly between all of them, never giving a clear feeling where it is heading. Once it gets to a point where you know where they’re going, it loses its footing.
I knew going in that Downsizing would either be really funny or it would be a disappointment. Sadly, it falls into the latter. Wasted cast, a confusing story line, and no clear direction makes for a very long 2 hours and 15 minutes. The only saving grace is Christoph Waltz’s performance. Even that isn’t enough to make it worth sitting through. If you feel you must see this, wait for it to come to the RedBox. Otherwise, do yourself a favor and pick just about anything else.