Matt “but what about the men who aren’t sexual predators” Damon shrinks in Downsizing, conspicuously absent from an awards season that’s already honoured The Greatest Showman for one of its songs. I know everyone said these awards shows were tone-deaf but I didn’t think they meant it literally.
Downsizing is set in a crazy world where Suburbicon isn’t the worst Matt Damon movie of the last few weeks. In it, people looking to make a fresh start can undergo a shrinking procedure and move to a more luxurious community. The technology is designed to solve overcrowding and reduce consumption, which is ironic for a film that so spectacularly wastes its quirky, interesting premise.
Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor of Sideways fame are clearly the wrong people to handle this sci-fi material, and that’s particularly bizarre considering it’s their material. You might as well let them write a Jurassic Park movie. Oh wait, that already happened.
But this didn’t even need the Charlie Kaufman treatment. All it needed was a story, and Downsizing doesn’t have the smallest, teeniest, tiniest trace of plot. All that happens is Damon goes to a party (because that’s what happens in Seconds), meets an annoying Christoph Waltz (Christoph Waltz) and falls in love with an embarrassing Asian stereotype (Hong Chau). A film where a tiny Matt Damon is chased by cats for two hours would have been preferable. Plus with all the pussy puns the marketing would write itself.
It Paynes me to say it but disappointment doesn’t come much bigger than this. Pretty soon our patience grows short and boredom waltzes into town. This is frustrating as the opening creates quite a neat, satirical world with countless avenues to explore, but Payne and Taylor manage to locate the only cul-de-sac and march straight down it without looking back. It’s like watching someone dig themselves into a hole and keep on digging, and Matt Damon is the perfect guy to do it.