Friday, April 07, 2017

“Colossal”– Movie Review



This week, I attended a New York Times Film Club screening of the new science fiction comedy, “Colossal”, starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. 


When a woman realizes her drunken behavior turns her into a monster that wreaks havoc on humanity, can she both curb her behavior and seek redemption?


If you were to look up the term “hot mess” in the dictionary, there’s no doubt you’d find a picture of Gloria (Hathaway).  Having recently lost her job writing for an online magazine, she’s taken her imbibing up to the next level, partying daily and staying up all night before passing out.  Her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) has had enough; when Gloria finally returns home after her latest Bacchanalia, she finds he’s packed her bags and is throwing her out.  With no place left to go, she leaves New York City and heads for the only other place she’s ever known as home:  the small town in New Hampshire where she grew up.

Once there, Gloria stays in her parents’ old house, which remains barren of furnishings of any kind since they left.  In the process of getting settled, she runs into Oscar (Sudeikis), her childhood friend, who is now running his late father’s bar.  Upon learning of Gloria’s situation, he offers her a job bartending and waitressing at his establishment.  While this may initially seem generous, Gloria eventually learns Oscar’s motivations aren’t entirely what they seem.  In reality, he’s forming a group of drinking buddies and feels the more the merrier, which is why he now wants to include Gloria.

Socializing with her new friends, Gloria is horrified to learn that she turns into a gigantic lizard-like monster that terrorizes Seoul, South Korea whenever she gets drunk.  This monster wreaks havoc, destroying buildings and killing people.  Even worse, soon Oscar develops his own alter ego when inebriated:  it is that of an enormous robot that likewise causes untold mayhem in Seoul.  While Gloria struggles to remain sober so she no longer hurts anyone as the monster, Oscar discovers a newfound sense of power that he finds exhilarating.  Can Gloria somehow manage to remain sober while finding a way to stop Oscar’s rampages on innocent people? 


“Colossal” hits all of the major “W” words:  Weird, Wild and most of all Wonderful.  It’s a crazy trip, basically a portmanteau of an old style Japanese monster movie and a dark comedy.  You’ll either be willing to suspend your disbelief for this frenzied madhouse or not.  If not, too bad because you’ll miss one of the most fun movies you’ll see in a very long time.  It is a creative, imaginative, unique experience that also makes some rather salient points about human behavior.  This may only be Spring, but if you’re making a list of best films of 2017, “Colossal” will at the very least deserve honorable mention. 

If there is a criticism, it may be in its casting, but it’s not necessarily that huge a problem.  While both Hathaway and Sudeikis are fine, it’s a bit of a stretch buying into Hathaway as a party gal; she seems a little too clean for all of that behavior and also has difficulty in exhibiting a dark side.  Sudeikis, on the other hand is very convincing when he turns evil; the change is abrupt, but given the fact that it comes about as a result of alcohol, that makes it more realistic.  When she’s drunk, she still nice; when he’s drunk, he’s angry and vindictive.  Her behavior is accidental while his is deliberate. 

Writer/Director Nacho Vigalondo does a sensational job in both tasks, but especially so toward the end of the movie as the story wraps up with its unexpected ending (which also turns out to be quite funny itself).  Vigalondo brilliantly wrings out twist after twist in this story; the audience never sees what’s coming next.  Without qualification, “Colossal” is worth seeing in the theater, rather than waiting for a rental.  If you do manage to see it with someone, it’s certain to spark a great deal of fascinating conversation afterwards.  As a matter of fact, bringing a friend with an alcohol problem may be an interesting way to instigate an intervention.   

Colossal (2016) on IMDb

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