Saw the movie "Downsizing" this weekend.
Holy God....this movie was a mess.
When I first saw the trailers, I was fascinated by it because the concept is really amazing. People voluntarily shrinking themselves, either for selfless (helping to save the planet) or selfish (instantly becoming "rich") reasons. Then, with the added drama of the wife deciding to opt out at the last minute, leaving the protagonist small and alone in a new world. There were so many interesting stories to tell in a world like this!
Then the movie came out, and I heard terrible things. To the point where I read the plot synopsis on Wikipedia, decided it wasn't for me, and forgot about it.
But my wife was intrigued, and we decided to watch it.
Two things struck me about the first hour. The first being that the movie was actually engaging and thought provoking. The second that it doesn't seem to have been edited at all. I haven't seen many movies that took the time to go through some many different scenes explaining exactly what's going on. They have a small scene introducing the scientists that create the process....then a small scene introducing the science to the world....then a small scene of the world reacting, including a minor introduction to the protagonist....then the movie really starts in the present. But, between each of those scenes, there was a time jump. One scene happens - 5 years later. Another scene happens - 10 years later. There's even another time jump later in the movie.
It reminded me of the movie Surrogates, where they jump ahead year after year to show how we went from life now to life in a world full of Surrogates. Except instead of a two-minute montage, it was a good 10-15 minutes of scene after scene showing bits and pieces of this new technology. It was kinda bizarre (but done well).
There were things here and there that they brought up that seemed to be pretty cool. They talk about Third World Countries using the technology to punish political prisoners. They talk about how the economy is suffering because so many people are suddenly buying and consuming so much less stuff. A drunk man confronts the protagonist about whether or not his vote should count as much as a "normal sized person" because he contributes less to the economy and is physically smaller.
All of these things could have been used to make a movie that tells a fantastical story that delves into real-world politics. Or, if they wanted, they could've simply told a story about a man who makes a decision with his wife, and how her last-minute change of heart changes his life forever.
Instead....the movie decides to tell the story of a man who feels lost in his life, crushed by the weight of choices he's made in the past, who decides to help people. He meets a housekeeper (from the aforementioned political prisoner story), and he's drawn into her selfless world of helping people. Along the way, he's introduced to a plan to save humanity by entering an ark in Norway.
What's crazy about the 2nd half of Downsizing is how little it has to do with being small. Outside of some brief scenes, the movie finishes without any scenes with "normal-sized people" - I could show you a full hour of this movie, and outside of some dialogue here and there and a couple of visual gags, you'd have literally no idea that the movie is about miniaturized people.
Don't get me wrong - the movie tells a (somewhat) compelling story about a man who feels called to his destiny. About a guy who always wanted to heal people who sorta got swallowed up by life. A man who takes a few leaps of faith before he's finally able to find contentment helping people.
But the movie is bizarrely structured and handled, as it were two different movies gruesomely sewn together like Frankenstein's monster. It's like the writer of the film wanted to tell a story about a man who helps a political prisoner in a slum, and he only used the compelling miniaturization storyline to get the movie sold. Or, like I said, he had half of one movie and half of another and just sewed them together to get a complete movie.
I didn't hate it. But I'm not sure I've ever seen a movie that could've used its premise to go in a million different ways and decided to (almost) throw away the entire premise to tell such a "normal" story. As if the movie "Lost in Translation" had an elaborate opening scene that explained the entire movie took place on the first colony on Mars, made to look like Japan.
Has anyone else seen this movie and had the same series of thoughts?