“Downsizing”: Go get small
“Downsizing”, directed and written by Alexander Payne (with Jim Taylor) seems like a modern telling of Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”, at least the Lilliputian part, with the same purpose, to poke fun at the way our political systems neglect global problems.
Some time soon a scientist in Norway discovers a way to “downsize” almost any organism by a mass of about 2500:1 with a single injection and heat chamber treatment. Soon companies are offering it to people with enough money, and setting aside “model train” communities around the world, somewhat hidden or perhaps “Under the Dome”, or perhaps like The Truman Show. It’s a way to save the planet from overpopulation (although the film doesn’t mention the whole problem of “the right babies” going along with population demographics).
Matt Damon plays an occupational therapist Paul Safranek working in Omaha. He has lost out on the chance to go to medical school because he had to care for his mother. One day he and his wife see a former boss (Jason Sudeikis) like a doll on a table, and Paul asked why did you “go get small.” Pretty soon Paul and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) visit Leisureland in New Mexico (having seen the small people in a box on the flight down) and take the sales pitch. They can live like millionaires.
Paul takes the bait. The scenes tracing the medical “downsizings” are scary enough. Paul’s body hair is removed (lopped off, "thmooth") as well as the usual Army buzz cut, and his teeth are pulled. The actual downsizing chamber part takes only a few minutes. Paul wakes up, bald everywhere like a chemo patient and checks his private parts. Then he gets dental implants with microteeth (because the real teeth don’t shrink and could cause his head to explode). I’ve had implants myself, and companies like Clear Choice must be laughing at this. Then Paul finds out that Audrey bailed out of the procedure and wants to divorce him.
The hair grows back, fortunately. A year later, after downsizing to an apartment on Leisureland and starting to date single moms, and after hearing about the political consequences of downsizing in the media, specifically the surreptitious trafficking of downsized immigrants (despite travel bans!) Paul finds out, from a housekeeper (Ngoc Lan Tran) that immigrants like her live in “barrios” for downsized undocumented immigrants.
As with his mom, Paul is very susceptible to moral pressure to give direct service to those in need, and finds himself as a “doctor” working in the barrio. Then the movie takes a turn to Norway, as a neighbor (Christoph Waltz) takes Paul on a trip to Norway to see the original colony.
And here comes the other political consequence: the Earth has reached its tipping point with the chain release of methane gas, so the little people in Norway have set up a “Noah’s arc” underground. Indeed, will the “normal people” become “the Leftovers”?
I did go through my own downsizing in a real estate sense, from inherited house to condo, recently. And I had full dental implants in 2013. I have yet to undergo a forced shaving.
Also, ponder the fact that certain big cats underwent downsizing thousands of years ago and became the domestic cats, one of the planets most successful mammals. Sometimes it pays to “go small”.
There was a short film with another Marriott “Storybooked” artist, this time sculptor Felix Semper, who visits San Sebastian, Spain (I visited it in 2001), in the Basque area, and then Barcelona, which is dealing with a new Catalan separatist vote today.
La Concha Bay in San Sebastian (wiki).
Director, writer: Alexander Payne
When and how viewed: Angelika Mosaic, 2017/12/22
Companies: Paramount (independent)
(Posted: Friday, December 22, 2017 at 11:15 PM EST)