"Downsizing"

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I love Alexander Payne's movies. At his best ("Election," "About Schmidt," "Sideways," "Nebraska) the venerable writer-director depicts the small-town humanism happening in various parts of America. So it was with great anticipation that I sat down in my seat at the Toronto International Film Festival, eagerly anticipating the next statement from this American master.
"Downsizing" which, like all of Payne's movies, is also a satire, and follows Paul and his wife (played by Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig) who believe their lives would be better if they were to use the newest technology of Downsizing. What is Downsizing? It's a scientific process which has people shrink themselves and be transferred to Lesiureland,  a new tiny world. It's all in part to save the environment and planet earth from mass consumption. If you're downsized you won't need much food or utilities to survive and the planet will benefit from that. 
Throughout the first act, I found myself immersed which, thanks to some incredible special effects, have you discovering a whole new world, unlike anything I have seen before. However, the film's second half is another story. The political and religious take over Payne's story, Wiig completely disappears, a love story is developed and off-beat, quirky humor is infused into the screenplay. Of note, Matt Damon's Yolo partying neighbor as played by Christophe Waltz. It doesn't work. 
Another problem is that many of the newly introduced characters of the second half just aren't that interesting and bring nothing of interest to the film. Worst of all is Ngoc (Hong Chau), whom Paul meets and starts to fall for, yes they have great chemistry together, but the love story that is developed is cliched and makes you feel let-down given that the movie promised in the first half, with relevant themes connected to today's socio-political world, is squandered in favor of a more pedantic storyline. It doesn't help that Ngoc is a racist caricature of Asian stereotypes. Every word she says is cringing and, yet, Damon, the ever brave actor that he is, puts on a straight face throughout. 
Back to the first hour of the film. When Payne sucks you  into this other world that has been built for those who shrunk themselves over the years, you will find yourself transfixed at how visually exciting it all is and and how well the deadpan comedy, a Payne specialty, works wonders. It's an eye-opening concept filled with little homes, little cars and, of course, little people. It's also not a far stretch to say this it is one of the most original movie ideas in recent memory, but sadly an idea doesn't make an entire film.
Technically "Downsizing" is bound to receive recognition in technical categories.  I wish this film went through a few more rewrites because there is a satirical gem hidden somewhere in Payne's film. In fact, it turns out, it's the worst movie he's ever made [C]
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