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by Michael  Cox
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Mar 27, 2018

"Downsizing" is the long-awaited sci-fi satire from Alexander Payne, the Academy Award-winning writer and director of "The Descendants" and "Nebraska." Fans of this quietly original filmmaker have anticipated this film since 2004, as it was meant to be the follow-up to his brilliantly successful film "Sideways."

Payne won his two Oscars for writing character-driven films, gentle, sedate movies low on glamour and high on middle-class angst. He writes great roles for actors because he writes about ordinary people having the greatest little crises of their small, uneventful lives.

At first, that seems to be what's happening in this film. Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) struggle to make ends meet, working mildly interesting jobs, paying bills and dreaming of a life that's just a little bit better. In other words, they live like most every other American, fortunate, satisfied and still discontent.

That is, until they meet a couple that gives them the opportunity to have all the "more" that they've ever wanted: An enormous house, a much better standard of living, and all at a fraction of the "full-sized" price. Technology now allows people to use fewer resources than they once did by shrinking them to the size of an ear of corn. Just think of it: The sandwich a full-sized person eats for lunch could feed 50 to 100 five-inch tall people. The money that people can save is exponential. And although it's not really a selling point, "downsizing" people makes the human race much less taxing on the earth, so it's much better for the environment.

The possibilities for satire in this scenario are endless. And it goes without saying that one of the great satires of Western literature, "Gulliver's Travels," is also, in part, about little people. As a science fiction film, "Downsizing" harkens back to the pulpy yet somehow profound B-films of the 1950s, like "The Incredible Shrinking Man," where an average American learns to appreciate his significance in a frightful and ever expanding universe. Unfortunately, all this potential is unfulfilled. The story loses its focus and spins off into various tangents. When it finally comes back to the main character's need to make a major decision, we've pretty much lost interest. Ultimately, this movie is big on message and small on story.

This high-definition Blu-ray also includes a number of small featurettes, including a look at working with the director, the cast, the visual journey and the global concerns.


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