Downsizing (film)

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Downsizing
Downsizing.png
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Alexander Payne
Produced by
Written by
  • Alexander Payne
  • Jim Taylor
Starring
Music by Rolfe Kent
Cinematography Phedon Papamichael
Edited by Kevin Tent
Production
company
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date
  • August 30, 2017 (2017-08-30) (Venice)
  • December 22, 2017 (2017-12-22) (United States)
Running time
135 minutes[1]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $68–76 million[2][3]
Box office $55 million[2]

Downsizing is a 2017 American science fiction comedy-drama film directed by Alexander Payne, written by Payne and Jim Taylor and starring Matt Damon, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Kristen Wiig. It tells the story of a couple who decide to undertake a newly-invented procedure to shrink their bodies so they can start a new life in an experimental community. When the wife refuses the procedure at the last minute, the husband has to reassess his life and choices after befriending an impoverished activist. Principal photography on the film began in Ontario, Canada, on April 1, 2016.

Downsizing premiered at the 74th Venice International Film Festival on August 30, 2017, and was theatrically released in the United States by Paramount Pictures on December 22, 2017. The film was a box office bomb, grossing just $55 million against a production budget between $68–76 million. It received mixed reviews from critics, with praised for its cast and premise but received criticism for its execution and failure to deliver on ideas given the subject matter.[4] Nevertheless, it was chosen by the National Board of Review as one of the top ten films of 2017,[5] while Chau earned a nomination for Best Supporting Actress at the 75th Golden Globe Awards.[6]

Plot[edit]

In the future, searching for a way to solve overpopulation and global warming, a scientist invents "downsizing", a process to shrink people to a height of five inches. Paul and Audrey Safranek, a married couple in Omaha with financial problems, meet Dave and Carol Johnson, who have downsized. While the inventors advocate that downsizing is environmentally friendly through the reduction of waste, Dave argues that its benefits extend far beyond that and improve one's life through the increase in value of their money.

Exploring the possibilities of downsizing, Paul and Audrey agree to undergo the process and move to Leisureland, New Mexico, one of the most popular communities for small individuals. After undergoing downsizing, Paul receives a call from Audrey, saying that she was unable to go through the procedure and, by opting out at the last minute, will be leaving him.

One year later, Paul finalizes the divorce with Audrey, and settles in to his new apartment (a downsizing of its own from the mansion he was to originally share with Audrey). Although Paul had anticipated a life of relative ease, the divorce left him without Audrey's share of their assets. In addition, Paul's share of the asset shrank further still due to divorce settlement negotiations. Paul, whose occupational therapist license had lapsed and faced a re-certification process due to Leisureland being in another state, now works as a customer service representative for Lands' End. While attending a birthday party, Paul has a discussion with Dave and says that he regrets his decision to downsize. Soon after, Paul breaks up with his girlfriend and attends a party hosted by his neighbor Dušan.

The next morning, Paul notices that one of Dušan's housecleaners is Ngoc Lan Tran, a Vietnamese political activist who was jailed and downsized against her will. Ngoc Lan was the sole survivor of a human smuggling attempt to the United States in a television box and had her leg amputated upon arrival. Attempting to assist Ngoc Lan with her prosthetic leg, Paul returns to her house in the slums outside of the walls of Leisureland. After assisting Ngoc Lan's dying friend, Paul attempts to repair Ngoc Lan's prosthetic leg only to break it and render her unable to work. In return, Paul works for Ngoc Lan's cleaning service where he also assists in gathering food from around the city that Ngoc Lan distributes throughout the slums. Dušan attempts to release Paul from his obligation by taking him to Norway, the site of the first small community, with his friend Joris Konrad, but Ngoc Lan also wishes to come along. Ngoc Lan had received international attention after her arrival in the United States, including personal correspondence from the inventor of downsizing, Dr. Jørgen Asbjørnsen, who had previously invited her to Norway to express his regret at the abuse of his procedure.

While traveling in a fjord, Paul's boat encounters Dr. Asbjørnsen and his wife, Anne-Helene. Dr. Asbjørnsen announces that humanity is doomed, as the positive feedback of Arctic methane emissions cannot be stopped, and will result in the eventual extinction of the human race. Arriving in the first colony, Paul is shown that Dr. Asbjørnsen planned for such a contingency with the creation of a large vault inside a mountain to insulate the colony and preserve humanity in the event of an extinction. Paul is excited to enter the vault and asks Ngoc Lan to join him. She rejects his offer, saying that he does not need to enter the vault and can do good in their community by returning. Paul enters the vault, but changes his mind and leaves as the door is closing and subsequently blasted to seal the occupants inside, choosing to return with Ngoc Lan, Dušan, and Konrad.

Having returned to Leisureland, Paul assists Ngoc Lan in her duties of providing needed aid and supplies to the people of the slums.

Cast[edit]

Among the smaller roles and cameos are Margo Martindale as a miniaturized woman on a shuttle bus, James Van Der Beek as an anesthesiologist, Niecy Nash as a Leisureland Salesperson, Donna Lynne Champlin as a Leisureland Administrator, and Don Lake as Leisureland Guide Matt. Additionally, Neil Patrick Harris and Laura Dern cameo as Jeff and Laura Lonowski, miniaturized sales reps. Brigette Lundy-Paine plays Dušan’s girlfriend and Joaquim de Almeida plays Conference Director Dr. Oswaldo Pereira. Also, Eric Burns plays a role as a Red Sox Nation Governor. Kerri Kenney-Silver plays Kristen, a single mom that Paul dates after his divorce.

Production[edit]

During the seven-year hiatus between the releases of their collaborations Sideways (2004) and The Descendants (2011), Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor spent two and a half years on the script for Downsizing, which was originally meant to have been Payne's next film after Sideways. However, the project was superseded by the production of The Descendants and Nebraska (2013).[8] On November 5, 2014, it was officially announced that Downsizing would be Payne's next film after Nebraska.[9] 20th Century Fox was the original distributor, until October 2, 2015, when it was revealed that Paramount Pictures had acquired distribution rights.[10] On January 8, 2015, it was announced that Annapurna Pictures would finance and produce the film.[11] Payne's production company, Ad Hominem Enterprises, was also involved with the production.[9] Payne and Mark Johnson produced the film, whose script was co-written by Payne and Taylor.[12]

Rolfe Kent composed the film's score.[13]

Reese Witherspoon had been attached to the project since 2009, when Paul Giamatti and Sacha Baron Cohen were both originally set to star.[14][15] On November 5, 2014, Damon was officially cast in the film, taking over Giamatti's role.[16] On January 7, 2015, it was confirmed that Witherspoon was still participating in the project, which would have been her first collaboration with Payne since Election (1999).[17][18] On January 8, it was announced that Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris and Jason Sudeikis had joined the cast, though Baldwin later dropped out.[19] On March 10, 2016, Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau joined the film,[12] and on March 29, 2016, it was announced that Kristen Wiig had replaced Witherspoon as Damon's character's wife.[7] In August 2016, it was announced that Margo Martindale had been cast in a small role.[20]

Principal photography on the film began on April 1, 2016, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, at University of Toronto Mississauga, while also featuring the Aga Khan Museum. Filming also took place in Omaha, Los Angeles, and Trollfjorden in Norway.[21][22][23][24]

Release[edit]

Downsizing premiered at the 74th Venice Film Festival on August 30, 2017, and also screened at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. The film was theatrically released in the United States on December 22, 2017, by Paramount Pictures.[25]

Downsizing grossed $24.4 million in the United States and Canada, and $30.2 million in other territories, for a total of $54.6 million, against a production budget of $68 million.[2]

In the United States and Canada, Downsizing was released alongside Father Figures and Pitch Perfect 3, as well as the wide expansions of The Shape of Water and Darkest Hour, and was projected to gross $10–12 million from 2,668 theaters in its four-day opening weekend.[26] It made $2.1 million on its first day (including $425,000 from Thursday night previews). Over the three-day weekend, it grossed $4.6 million, finishing 7th at the box office. It marked the third domestic financial disappointment for Paramount Pictures, following Mother! and Suburbicon, the latter of which also starred Matt Damon.[27] The following weekend the film dropped 5% to $4.7 million, finishing 9th.[28]

Downsizing was released on Digital HD on March 6, 2018, and on Ultra HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray and DVD on March 20, 2018.[29][30]

Critical reception[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 50% based on 265 reviews, with an average rating of 5.8/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Downsizing assembles a talented cast in pursuit of some truly interesting ideas — which may be enough for some audiences to forgive the final product's frustrating shortcomings."[31] On Metacritic, the film has a weighted average score of 63 out of 100, based on 48 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[32] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C" on an A+ to F scale.[27][33]

Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter, who eventually named the film his best of 2017, praised it as "big and beautiful", highlighting the direction and the lead performances, and saying "this is a deeply humane film that, like the best Hollywood classics, feels both entirely of its moment and timeless. It was a risky roll of the dice, but one that hits the creative jackpot."[34] Xan Brooks of The Guardian gave Downsizing five out of five stars, labeling the film as "Alexander Payne's miniature masterpiece."[35] Writing for Rolling Stone, Peter Travers gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars, saying, "with startling performances and special effects, director Alexander Payne's dystopian sci-fi satire brims over with the pleasures of the unexpected."[36]

Conversely, David Sims of The Atlantic gave the film a negative review, writing: "If Payne had landed the mix of genres, Downsizing could have been a masterpiece. Spoiler (small print not required): He does not."[37] Keith Uhlich of Slant Magazine gave the film 1.5/4 stars and said, "Alexander Payne has things on his mind: global warming, mass consumption, white privilege, liberal guilt, irredeemable women, redeemable men, and the gut-busting humor inherent in a Vietnamese refugee speaking in pidgin English. All this is stuffed into Downsizing, Payne’s I-guess-you’d-call-it-ambitious sci-fi satire..."[38]

Accolades[edit]

Award Date of ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
Art Directors Guild Awards January 27, 2018 Excellence in Production Design for a Contemporary Film Stefania Cella Nominated [39]
Critics' Choice Movie Awards January 11, 2018 Best Supporting Actress Hong Chau Nominated [40]
Florida Film Critics Circle December 23, 2017 Best Supporting Actress Hong Chau Nominated [41]
[42]
Golden Globe Awards January 7, 2018 Best Supporting Actress – Motion Picture Hong Chau Nominated [43]
National Board of Review January 4, 2018 Top Ten Films Downsizing Won [44]
Santa Barbara International Film Festival January 31, 2018 Virtuoso Award Hong Chau Won [45]
Satellite Awards February 10, 2018 Best Art Direction and Production Design Downsizing Nominated [46]
Saturn Awards June 27, 2018 Best Fantasy Film Downsizing Nominated [47]
Screen Actors Guild Awards January 21, 2018 Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role Hong Chau Nominated [48]
St. Louis Film Critics Association December 10, 2017 Best Supporting Actress Hong Chau Nominated [49]
Venice Film Festival September 9, 2017 Golden Lion Downsizing Nominated [50]
[51]
[52]
[53]
Visual Effects Society Awards February 13, 2018 Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Photoreal Feature Lindy de Quattro, Susan MacLeod, Stéphane Nazé and James E. Price Nominated [54]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Downsizing". tiff. Retrieved August 15, 2017. 
  2. ^ a b c "Downsizing (2017)". Box Office Mojo. IMDb. Retrieved March 24, 2018. 
  3. ^ "2017 Feature Film Study" (PDF). FilmL.A. August 8, 2018: Page 25. Retrieved August 9, 2018. 
  4. ^ Giles, Jeff (December 21, 2017). "Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle is Certified Fresh". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango Media. Retrieved December 21, 2017. 
  5. ^ "National Board of Review Announces 2017 Award Winners". National Board of Review. November 28, 2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017. 
  6. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globe Nominations: Complete List". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 11, 2017. 
  7. ^ a b Fleming, Mike Jr. (March 29, 2016). "Kristen Wiig Joins Matt Damon In Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing' After Reese Witherspoon Exit". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved April 2, 2016. 
  8. ^ Shoard, Catherine (November 6, 2014). "Matt Damon downsizing with Alexander Payne". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  9. ^ a b Jue, Teresa (November 5, 2014). "Matt Damon to star in Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing'". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  10. ^ Busch, Anita (October 2, 2015). "Paramount Pulls In Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing' With Matt Damon, Reese Witherspoon". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  11. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 8, 2015). "Annapurna Steps Up For Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing'; What A Cast!". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  12. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (March 10, 2016). "Christoph Waltz and Hong Chau Joins Matt Damon in Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  13. ^ filmmusicreporter (April 7, 2017). "Rolfe Kent to Score Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing'". Film Music Reporter. Retrieved April 8, 2017. 
  14. ^ Kit, Borys (January 7, 2015). "Reese Witherspoon Reunites With Alexander Payne for 'Downsizing'". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  15. ^ Lambie, Ryan (October 6, 2015). "Alexander Payne to Shrink Matt Damon in Downsizing". Den of Geek!. Dennis Publishing. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
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  17. ^ Fleming, Mike Jr. (January 7, 2015). "Reese Witherspoon 'Downsizing' With Matt Damon, Alexander Payne". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  18. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 7, 2015). "Reese Witherspoon Joins Matt Damon in Alexander Payne's 'Downsizing'". TheWrap. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  19. ^ Sneider, Jeff (January 8, 2015). "Alec Baldwin, Neil Patrick Harris, Jason Sudeikis Join Matt Damon in 'Downsizing'". TheWrap. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  20. ^ McGovern, Joe (August 25, 2016). "Margo Martindale describes her small (very, very, very small) role in Alexander Payne's next film". Entertainment Weekly. Time. Retrieved August 25, 2016. 
  21. ^ Johnsen, Henning (July 31, 2016). "Matt Damon har landet i Lofoten". Lofotposten. Retrieved April 7, 2017. 
  22. ^ Christine (March 11, 2016). "'Downsizing', starring Matt Damon and Reese Witherspoon, is looking for nude extras in Toronto". On Location Vacations. Retrieved March 12, 2016. 
  23. ^ Biga, Leo Adam (April 1, 2016). "Hot Movie Takes: Lensing April 1, Payne's 'Downsizing' promises to be his most ambitious film to date". Leo Adam Biga's My Inside Stories. Retrieved April 10, 2016. 
  24. ^ Mertes, Micah (April 9, 2016). "Alexander Payne, Matt Damon to shoot film in Omaha next week; locations include Prep, midtown". Omaha World-Herald. BH Media Group. Retrieved April 10, 2016. 
  25. ^ McClintock, Pamela (November 8, 2016). "Tom Cruise's 'Mission: Impossible 6' Lands Summer 2018 Release Date". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved November 9, 2016. 
  26. ^ McNary, Dave (December 19, 2017). "'Jumanji,' 'Greatest Showman,' 'Pitch Perfect' to Challenge the 'Star Wars' Box Office Force". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 19, 2017. 
  27. ^ a b D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 24, 2017). ""Last Jedi" Lords Over Christmas Weekend B.O. With $100M+ As "Jumanji" Roars $65M+ & "Pitch Perfect 3" Sings $27M". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 24, 2017. 
  28. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (December 31, 2017). "'Last Jedi' Has Upper Hand Over 'Jumanji' In New Year's Weekend Duel As 2017 B.O. Closes With $11.1B – Monday Update". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved January 1, 2018. 
  29. ^ "Downsizing (2017)". DVDs Release Dates. Retrieved February 13, 2018. 
  30. ^ Bradley, Dan (February 4, 2018). "'Downsizing' 4K, Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Release Date and Details". The HD Room. Zboos. Retrieved February 4, 2018. 
  31. ^ "Downsizing (2017)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved April 19, 2018. 
  32. ^ "Downsizing Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved February 12, 2018. 
  33. ^ CinemaScore [@CinemaScore] (December 23, 2017). "The grade is in for @downsizingfilm. What do you think? #CinemaScore For more grades visit: www.cinemascore.com" (Tweet). Retrieved February 12, 2018 – via Twitter. 
  34. ^ McCarthy, Todd (August 30, 2017). "'Downsizing': Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  35. ^ Brooks, Xan (August 30, 2017). "Downsizing review – Matt Damon thinks small in Alexander Payne's miniature masterpiece". The Guardian. Guardian News and Media. Retrieved August 30, 2017. 
  36. ^ Travers, Peter (December 19, 2017). "'Downsizing' Review: Matt Damon Shines in 'Bracing Comedy of Shocking Gravity". Rolling Stone. Retrieved December 21, 2017. 
  37. ^ Sims, David (December 22, 2017). "Downsizing Has Big Ambitions but Little Payoff". The Atlantic. The Atlantic Monthly Group. Retrieved January 2, 2018. 
  38. ^ Uhlich, Keith (September 10, 2017). "'Downsizing' Film Review". Slant Magazine. Retrieved January 2, 2018. 
  39. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 4, 2018). "Art Directors Guild Awards: 'Dunkirk,' 'Shape of Water,' 'Blade Runner 2049' Among Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 4, 2018. 
  40. ^ "Critics' Choice Awards Nominations: 'The Shape Of Water' Leads With 14; Netflix Tops TV Contenders". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. December 6, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2017. 
  41. ^ FFCC (December 20, 2017). "'The Shape of Water' Leads 2017 Florida Film Critics Awards Nominations". Florida Film Critics Circle. Retrieved December 21, 2017. 
  42. ^ FFCC (December 23, 2017). "2017 FFCC Winners". Florida Film Critics Circle. Retrieved December 23, 2017. 
  43. ^ Respers, Lisa (December 11, 2017). "Golden Globe nominations 2018: The list". CNN Entertainment. CNN. Retrieved December 22, 2017. 
  44. ^ D'Alessandro, Anthony (November 28, 2017). "National Board Of Review Winners: 'The Post' Comes Up Strong With Best Pic, Best Actress Meryl Streep, Best Actor Tom Hanks". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 12, 2017. 
  45. ^ Rubin, Rebecca (November 29, 2017). "Gal Gadot, Kumail Nanjiani, Timothee Chalamet Among Recipients for Virtuosos Award at Santa Barbara Film Festival". Variety. Penske Business Media. Retrieved November 29, 2017. 
  46. ^ Pond, Steve (November 29, 2017). "'Dunkirk,' 'The Shape of Water' Lead Satellite Award Nominations". TheWrap. Retrieved November 29, 2017. 
  47. ^ McNary, Dave (March 15, 2018). "'Black Panther,' 'Walking Dead' Rule Saturn Awards Nominations". Variety. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018. 
  48. ^ Hipes, Patrick (December 13, 2017). "SAG Awards Nominations: 'Three Billboards' Tops Film List, Netflix Leads In TV". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved December 22, 2017. 
  49. ^ Flores, Marshall (December 10, 2017). "Shape of Water Receives 12 Nominations From the St. Louis Film Critics". Awards Daily. Retrieved December 22, 2017. 
  50. ^ "Collateral Awards of the 74th Venice Film Festival". La Biennale di Venezia. September 8, 2017. Retrieved December 3, 2017. 
  51. ^ "Venezia 74, i premi collaterali". la Repubblica Venice. GEDI Gruppo Editoriale. September 8, 2017. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  52. ^ ANSA Editor (September 7, 2017). "A Venezia il Green Drop Award al film più ecologista – Ambiente & Energia". Ambiente & Energia. Agenzia Nazionale Stampa Associata. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  53. ^ Editor (August 22, 2017). "Queer Lion a Venezia: 9 film in gara per il Leone Gay". NonSoloCinema. Retrieved September 14, 2017. 
  54. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (January 16, 2018). "Visual Effects Society Awards: 'Apes,' 'Blade Runner 2049' Lead Feature Nominees". The Hollywood Reporter. Prometheus Global Media. Retrieved January 16, 2018. 

External links[edit]