Matt Damon, in “Downsizing,” endows Paul with a passive sweet decency that makes him seem like a high-school dork all grown up (but essentially unchanged), and while Damon, as doughy as a Teddy bear, infuses the character with feeling, you may wish that Payne had given Paul a dimension or two beyond his lumpish decency and good nature — that he’d come with a few spiky quills.From the moment he gets to Leisure Land Estates, Paul is lost.It’s also the most whimsically outlandish film of Payne’s career, though that doesn’t mean it’s made with anything less than his usual highly thought-out and controlled master-craftsman bravura.“Downsizing” is an ingenious comedy of scale, a touching tale of a man whose problems grow bigger as he gets smaller, and an earnest environmental parable.It says that our obsession with having a “better life” can reduce us, and that life will always be a stranger journey than the one we thought we were choosing. With: Matt Damon, Kristen Wiig, Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, Jason Sudeikis, Udo Keir, Neil Patrick Harris, Laura Dern, Brigitte Lundy-Paine, Neil Patrick Harris, Joaquim de Almeida, Margo Martindale.
His new movie, “Downsizing,” opened the Venice film festival by unveiling a new side of Payne that’s at once playful, spectacular, mischievous and audacious.
His films are built with a craftsmanship so beveled and honed that it’s beyond impeccable, yet that very precision can, at times, rob his movies of spontaneity.
“Downsizing” has a subtly structured arc of redemption, as well as a nifty metaphorical design.
Payne touches the double nerve of our current economic jitters — the combination of shrinking paychecks and raw envy.
The audience, of course, knows in its bones that downsizing has to be a Faustian bargain.