Downsizing The Laughs

When scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to overpopulation, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in order to get small and move to a new downsized community — a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.

The Skinny

The premise to Downsizing looks really interesting :When scientists discover how to shrink humans to five inches tall as a solution to over-population, Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to abandon their stressed lives in order to get small and move to a new downsized community – a choice that triggers life-changing adventures.

Multi Oscar-winning filmmaker Alexander Payne, whose body of work consists of hits such as Sideways, The Descendants and Nebraska, says that while Downsizing doesn’t necessarily exude a sci-fi feel to it, the basis for a sci-fi story – in which an absurd concept is told with complete sincerity – is at the heart of the film.

The film, which has been just over a decade in the making, will mark Payne’s biggest budgeted feature to date, due in large part to the visual effects required to pull off the story of human beings being voluntarily shrunk down to pocket size. An impressive cast is also onboard to tell this tale, including: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Laura Dern (Twin Peaks), Jason Sudeikis and Neil Patrick Harris. The film’s script was co-written with Jim Taylor – Payne’s Oscar-winning screenwriting partner on Sideways.

Alexander Payne (Sideways, The Descendants, Election) was getting ready to make this a couple of years back but, at the last second, moved away from it and made The Descendants instead. The script going round Hollywood met some critisism, not least from Carson Reeves who gave us insight in his blog post from 2012. (http://scriptshadow.blogspot.com/2012/06/screenplay-review-downsizing.html).

"This has to be one of the strangest scripts I’ve ever read by a professional screenwriter. Even Charlie Kaufman is going, “Dude, you went off the reservation with this one, buddy.” " he says.

What follows is less the light hearted comedy we would hope, but a mismatch of disaster and out of left field diversions from numerous characters and plot twists that digress from the main storyline. Doesn't sound good! However, the director recently stated in Entertainment Weekly interview : "This film was very difficult for us, and it was the reason why there was a long gap for me between Sideways and The Descendants. We spent a lot of time trying to perfect this screenplay. We don’t choose [when to make a film], it’s when we get financing [and] we couldn’t get financing for it. We also hadn’t quite cracked the screenplay yet; so as painful as that was in hindsight, I’m glad the film was made when it was made. The same thing happened to me years before on About Schmidt. About Schmidt was going to be my first feature in 1991, but I couldn’t get financing and maybe hadn’t quite cracked the screenplay, so it wasn’t made for 11 more years. It happens sometimes."

So what does that mean? Have they fixed it? Let's hope so!

The Bottom Line

Not as good as I had hoped!