What would you do if I told you I could make your life better but you would have to give up life as you know it? It’s a tough question, I mean on one hand you will have a better life, but that would be a life of mystery and we all like our comfort zones. Now what if I added that not only would this be better for you, but better for mankind as well, would you still have to think about it? This is the question put forth in Alexander Payne’s latest offering “Downsizing”, which from the title you figured out what you would have to do.
Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) is a pretty ordinary man who works as a physical therapist at the Omaha Meat Company. Not only is his life ordinary it is also pretty routine and just good enough in his eyes. Though, like every other person on the planet, his world is about to change as a doctor has found a way to shrink people and animals. This could be the perfect solution for over population and famine, as being 1/5th you size changes what you need and consume. Soon it’s the cool thing to do to be small and Paul soon sees first hand when a classmate from High School Dave (Jason Sudeikis) comes to their reunion living that small life. By now Paul is married to Audrey (Kristen Wiig) and after talking to Dave and weighing his options, he and Audrey decide small is the way to go. They sell everything and go through the process, but when something happens it’s Paul who finds his real calling in the small world.
Hey, you have to give Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor credit, I mean who wouldn’t love living in a world where you were small and you could live a better life because of it? While the idea was good, the film reminds us it is not a small world after it falters trying to make its message clear. Payne, who has a particular sense of humor, never really finds it in this one, which makes it feel like someone trying to make an Alexander Payne film. The cast is good, as Damon and Christoph Waltz are golden, but the rest of the cast feels like if you blink you will miss them and I think that hurts the film a little. I feel more of Wiig and Sudeikis would have brightened up this world a little more. There are good intentions and clear attempts to put Damon’s character’s heart in the right place but it feels like the film loses its heart along the way as Damon’s character finds his. I always look forward to Payne’s films, but with this one it feels like Payne-light. By the time the credits roll, “Downsizing” never feels as big as it could have been and instead delivers a small amount of entertainment and a bigger amount of disappointment.