A nutty idea is the basis for “Downsizing,” about Norwegian scientists who believe the world’s over-population can be solved via a secret formula that reduces human beings to mini people who take up so much less space. With Matt Damon in the cast and a touch of humor, the film has a measure of appeal despite its inherent silliness.
Directed by Alexander Payne from the screenplay he wrote with Jim Taylor, “Downsizing” obviously offers the opportunity for excellent special effects. But when you get down to close-ups of the experimental colony of little people, all looks normal, except when the image is jarred by placing them against a regular sized object or person.
Damon plays Paul Safenek, an ordinary guy struggling to make a living, and Kristen Wiig plays his wife, Audrey, and they are tempted to opt for what is promised to be an easy life with no financial headaches in the mini project. They report in for the medical process, but, there is a hitch (no spoiler here as to what it is).
How far can an idea like this go? Payne milks it by finding humor in life’s details and the special effects. There are also amusing characters, including Christoph Waltz as a grand manipulator. There is also Hong Chau as the amusing Vietnamese refugee Ngoc Lan Tan, who falls in love with Paul, but demands in outspoken accented English after they first go to bed, exactly what kind of f—k he gave her. She enumerates the various possibilities, but hopes it was a love f—k.
That gives you an idea of the kind of humor that you’ll find. The plot is pushed too far when the film veers toward another scheme that is even more ambitious. However, there are pleasures to be found along the way given the expertise with which the film has been made and the cast. A Paramount Pictures release. Reviewed October 9, 2017.