It’s rare for a sci-fi film — especially one with a comedic twist — to get a warm reception from the critical set, but so far Alexander Payne’s Downsizing has managed the feat.
In the wake of its successful premiere at Venice over the summer, Paramount has just released a second trailer for the genre-tweaking film ahead of its box-office opening next month — and it finds midlife-crisis-stricken Paul Safranek (Matt Damon) lost in tiny, tiny space.
Fed up with the rat race of middle-class dogpaddling in their hometown of Omaha, Safranek and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig) decide to avail themselves of an exotic new medical procedure, one crafted by Norwegian scientists in anticipation of the day when normal-sized people are just too much for the beleaguered Earth to bear.
By volunteering to be irreversibly shrunk to the height of a ballpoint pen and migrating to a tiny city where every resource (including cash) stretches way, way farther than in the 1:1-scale world, the Safraneks see a way out of their “What’s it all for?” existence and into what they hope is a saner environment, one that aligns with life’s most meaningful priorities.
But … something happens. We’re not gonna spoil it for you, but you’ll find it in the trailer. All we’ll say here is that the decision to get small ends up inflicting plenty of unintended consequences. Consider this your point of no return!
If this treatment has you conjuring mixed recollections of everything from Being John Malkovich to Across the Universe to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids to … well, to Sideways, Payne’s other acclaimed midlife crisis comedy from 2004, then we’ve got two observations: A — genre differences have never stopped you from watching a good movie, and B — we’re right there with you.
With one movie ransacking this many genres and themes, it’s a safe bet there’ll be plenty more to discover when Payne’s Lilliputian film opens on big screens nationwide December 22.