Downsizing Reviewed By Clayton Barnett

The Premise
Imagine what might happen if, as a solution to over-population, Norwegian scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall & propose a 200-year global transition from big to small. People soon realize how much further money goes in a miniaturized world, & with the promise of a better life, everyman Paul Safranek & wife Audrey decide to abandon their stressed lives in Omaha in order to get small & move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.

The Review
In an overpopulated world plagued by natural disasters, would you shrink down to 12 centimetres? The short answer (pun intended) is no. 

If Alexander Payne’s latest comedy is anything to go by a literally microcosm of America is much the same as the big world, people are still selfish – they’re not doing it for the planet - and the poor minorities still clean up after them.

It’s a point Payne hammers home, along with other big ideas that appear when the film literally sails off in a different direction in the third act. 

I feel this movie was smaller (sorry) in scale when it was first put into production back in 2009, and Payne’s indie approach may have made for a better, and less seemingly studio-interfered with, flick. 

But there’s still some little (apologies again) touches to like about this climate-change focused drama comedy – and its way more drama than comedy than the trailer insinuates FYI.

There are some great size-related gags, Christoph Waltz is just hilarious, the actual visuals – especially of the process – are a treat and it will definitely make you ponder the state of the world. 

Plus for the first time in forever it seems Hollywood knows how to cast a truly internationally flavoured film of cultures and ethnicities. just a shame Hong Chau’s pidgin English is a bit on the nose.

And poor Matt Damon, who had a forgettable 2017. From the heights of the brilliant The Martian to three successive flops – the Chinese co-production The Great Wall, Clooney’s Suburbicon and now a US $68 million film that made only $5 million on opening weekend. 

But when he’s paired up with Hong the movie really works. With humour and humanity the two help the poor and sick migrants, and you’re reminded with what’s important in life. 

The Verdict
A film filled with big interesting ideas - and the visuals to match – is just let down by a few shortcomings. 

The Trailer


The Info
Releases: 25th January 2018
Rating: M – Contains drug use, offensive language & nudity
Duration: 135 minutes 
Genre:  Drama/ Comedy
Starring: Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau and Kristen Wiig
Director: Alexander Payne (Nebraska, The Descendants)

The Extras
A memorable scene from the trailer does not appear in the final film: A group of down-sized people are drinking from a life-sized bottle of Vodka, which in the "small" world would hold the comparative volume of hundreds of gallons.

This is the first film, since Citizen Ruth, that Alexander Payne has written that is not based on a book.

Meryl Streep, Reese Witherspoon, Paul Giamatti, and Sacha Baron Cohen were all previously attached to this movie.

The village was filmed in Kelso Quarry Park in Milton, Ontario, Canada.

Was filmed at Alexander Payne's high school alma mater, Creighton Prep in Omaha, Nebraska.

First English film of Rolf Lassgård.

Alexander Payne had originally wanted Paul Giamatti to play the Matt Damon role.

Kristen Wiig replaced Reese Witherspoon in the lead role, preventing the reunion of Witherspoon and director Payne (they have collaborated on Election (1999))

The building which houses the scientific conference at the beginning of the movie is actually the Aga Khan Museum, located in Toronto, Canada

Damon's father passed away on the same day the film opened in the U.S.

This is Alexander Panye's and Jim Taylor's fifth writing collaboration following Citizen Ruth (1996), Election (1999), About Schmidt (2002) and Sideways (2004).

Downsizing premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival on August 30, 2017. It was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017, while Chau has earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.