Keep up-to-date on your favourite artists and movies, track gig and release dates, and join in the conversation.
Want more? Listen to our discussion of 'Downsizing' on SWITCHCast
Click here to listen to a brand new episode of Ink & Paint as Daniel discusses the groundbreaking classic 'One Hundred and One Dalmatians'!x
review, Downsizing, Downsizing, film, movie, latest movies, new movie, movie ratings, current movie reviews, latest films, recent movies, current movies, movie critics, new movie reviews, latest movie reviews, latest movies out, the latest movies, review film, latest cinema releases, Australian reviews, cinema, cinema reviews, Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis, Alec Baldwin, Margo Martindale, Laura Dern, Bruce Willis, Joaquim De Almeida, Alexander Payne film rating



By Chris Edwards
5th December 2017

As someone who works in the theatre, I’ve always prided myself on being an excellent audience member. I know what it takes to get up on that stage and bare a part of yourself for a baying crowd, so you better believe that when the shoe is on the other proverbial foot, I’m going to sit there and be as spiritually supportive as I goddamn can be. I’ve been front and centre and beamed with pride and affection during truly terrible shows, sending out as many positive vibes as I possibly can, because no one wants to catch a glimpse of the people they’re working their ass off to entertain and see nothing but a collection of assholes sizing up the exits.

Now, granted, things are different in a cinema, where the actors aren’t sweating and spitting mere metres away from you. And yet, it was still surprising to me when about an hour into Alexander Payne’s latest torturous exercise in condescension, ‘Downsizing’, I realised that my face had contorted itself into an unmoving mixture of contempt, disgust, exasperation and, well, I guess the correct terminology would be “burning fiery hatred”. Though I made a concerted effort to relax my straining facial muscles into a more neutral arrangement – preferably one that wouldn’t leave me prematurely needing Sharon Stone’s nefarious anti-aging cream from ‘Catwoman’ (up-to-date reference alert) – it was only a matter of minutes before yet another moment of dumb, mildly sexist, dismissively racist, self-congratulatory bullshit occurred on screen and slapped that same unimpressed look on my face. Because, to put it bluntly, this film is offensively bad.


As the near inescapable trailers and ads have no doubt screamed at you by now, ‘Downsizing’ is the story of Matt Damon’s Paul Safranek, an average guy living in a world where a procedure that shrinks you down to 0.0367% of your body mass (basically, so you’re about five inches tall) has become so commonplace that entire tiny villages of McMansions are popping up all over the place. Sure, it’s good for the environment, but the main appeal lies in its ability to multiply your assets to an exponential degree, turning thousands into millions with just one quick, easy, irreversible procedure. Needless to say, Paul and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to explore their options.

Though initial stretches show faint glimmers of amusement, whether it be through the calm absurdity of the procedure itself or the endless stream of cameos from consistently wasted performers, the flickers of enjoyment here are few and far between. In what seems to be an unfortunate trend that’s developing over the director’s oeuvre, from the careless misogyny of ‘The Descendants’ to the condescending caricatures of ‘Nebraska’, this latest offering from Payne smacks of the worst kind of liberal racism and sexism. Wiig’s character makes an abrupt exit early on, deciding she can’t go through with the transformation for hideously superficial reasons, boiling a major character decision down to because she’s a silly woman. At no point are her objections taken at all seriously, which is when you begin to realise that at no point are any of the women in this film taken seriously at all. They are jokes, there to embody the worst impulses of the capitalistic hedonism that Payne so clearly scorns, or to simply cause trouble for the men and get in the way of their precious journeys of indulgent self-discovery.

...‘Downsizing’ commits the cardinal sin of being a satire that doesn’t even know what it’s actually satirising.

But don’t worry, because the film also has Something To Say about race and class, as the only other woman the film seems to have any time for is Ngoc Lan (Hong Chau), a Vietnamese activist who was shrunk against her will and smuggled into America in a TV box, losing a foot in the process (I’m only now getting that that could have been an attempt at a pun. I am not amused). In any case, Chau is the lone bright spot in this patronising excuse for a film, in a role that should have been its most problematic aspect. Speaking in broken English through a "comically" thick accent, and bossing around Paul as she forces him to help her bring food and medicine to people who, unlike him, are actually suffering, Chau commands the screen and steadfastly refuses to let Ngoc Lan be anything less than a genuine, heartbreakingly empathetic presence in a film that in no way earns or deserves her hard work. Worse still, the film seems to be constantly trying to undercut her, as even in her two standout, openly emotional moments, it keeps attempting to spasmodically jab at some horrifyingly misguided comedy, to the point where I’ve never been so disappointed in my fellow audience members for continuing to laugh at an otherwise funny character.

Even without its viciously uncomfortable treatment of women and minorities, ‘Downsizing’ commits the cardinal sin of being a satire that doesn’t even know what it’s actually satirising. One minute it’s taking aim at middle-class opportunism and economic desperation, the next it’s an apocalyptic meditation on man’s failing of the environment. And they’re just the bookends – in between those two poles are a series of thrown together concepts and discarded ideas, any of which individually would have made for an intriguing premise for the film. But, instead, we have this. An unfunny, unilluminating, caustically toothless, visually uninspiring and intellectually facile attempt at mansplaining the world’s problems, made by someone who seems to have about as much interest in them as the pathetic characters he simultaneously hates and yet can’t seem to bring himself to actually criticise.

Oh look, I’m making that face again.

RELEASE DATE: 26/12/2017
CAST: Matt Damon
Kristen Wiig
Christoph Waltz
Neil Patrick Harris
Jason Sudeikis
Alec Baldwin
Margo Martindale
Laura Dern
Bruce Willis
Joaquim De Almeida
DIRECTOR: Alexander Payne
Mark Johnson
Alexander Payne
Jim Burke
Megan Ellison
Want more? Listen to our discussion of 'Downsizing' on SWITCHCast 
Then Came You - A life-changing journey
TRENDINGWIN THEN CAME YOUA life-changing journey
Cosmic Sin - Interstellar battle between humans and aliens
TRENDINGWIN COSMIC SINInterstellar battle between humans and aliens
Pocahontas - 25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
TRENDINGPOCAHONTAS25 years later, the colours of the wind are fading
The Violin Player - Sex and strings
Cosmic Sin - A film that delivers on the promise of its title
TRENDINGCOSMIC SINA film that delivers on the promise of its title
Revisiting 'Dark City' 20 years later - The most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
TRENDINGREVISITING 'DARK CITY' 20 YEARS LATERThe most underrated and influential sci-fi film ever?
Raya and the Last Dragon - A solid return to form for Walt Disney Animation Studios
TRENDINGRAYA AND THE LAST DRAGONA solid return to form for Walt Disney Animation Studios
The Odd Family: Zombie on Sale - An extremely silly zomedy
Lion - A raw and powerful journey of identity
TRENDINGLIONA raw and powerful journey of identity
Boss Level - Nostalgic action and quirky foes
TRENDINGBOSS LEVELNostalgic action and quirky foes
Then Came You - Then came the same movie over and over again
TRENDINGTHEN CAME YOUThen came the same movie over and over again
Wet Woman in the Wind - A sexy struggle for conquest
TRENDINGWET WOMAN IN THE WINDA sexy struggle for conquest
The Truffle Hunters - Joy and dedication in the dirt of Northern Italy
TRENDINGTHE TRUFFLE HUNTERSJoy and dedication in the dirt of Northern Italy
A Call to Spy - The unknown stories of real-life heroes
TRENDINGA CALL TO SPYThe unknown stories of real-life heroes
Kuessipan - Coming of age story in an Innu community
TRENDINGKUESSIPANComing of age story in an Innu community
When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit - A charming and poignant tale of survival
TRENDINGWHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBITA charming and poignant tale of survival
25 Free-to-Watch Short Horror Films - The scariest shorts we uncovered online
TRENDING25 FREE-TO-WATCH SHORT HORROR FILMSThe scariest shorts we uncovered online
Jupiter's Moon - Defies gravity
Melbourne Queer Film Festival 2021 - The reviews
© 2011 - 2021 midnightproductions
All rights reserved

Support SWITCH | Disclaimer | Contact Us!