Colossal is a movie in which a drunken Anne Hathaway unknowingly stumbles into a portal that gives her control over a giant lizard monster rampaging in South Korea. You know, that old chestnut.
While Colossal’s main plot device is a brazenly normal paint-by-numbers Hollywood story, it’s still a movie that deserves your consideration. If only because it still delivers a solid variation on the well-worn plot device of a depressed alcoholic serving as a proxy for a reptilian kaiju.
It may be difficult for you to overcome the “been here done that” feeling that washes over your mind the moment Anne Hathaway starts crushing buildings in Seoul. But try not to focus on the generic portions of Colossal. Instead, focus on the more captivating aspect of the movie: the humans.
Remove the colossal beast from Colossal and you’re left with a surprisingly dark and poignant movie. Kind of. You do need wander around in the dark for a while before you’ll realize where Colossal is actually trying to take you. This is one of the more frustrating and genius aspects of the movie.
The audience is lead to believe Colossal is a movie about alcoholism and going clean. Making good decisions. Finding your roots. Becoming responsible. Finding true love. Halfway through the movie all of these morals are still in play.
Anne Hathaway’s character Gloria returns to her small hometown after her life, relationship and career fall apart in New York City. She’s reunited with her long lost friend Oscar, played by Jason Sudeikis. Oscar helps Gloria get back on her feet by giving her a job. Gloria gives Oscar hope after so much failure in his past. Gloria and Oscar are two diamonds in the rough that just might help each other truly shine.
At the mid-point of Colosssal you’ll be saying to yourself, “This story about finding yourself and finding love in your hometown is refreshing and unique, but how in the heck does it tie into the boring mind-controlled monster cliche?”
But then shit. gets. real.
By far, the most outstanding aspect of Colossal is how the real message subtly creeps into the forefront. There aren’t any sirens warning you. There are no giant monsters to see coming in the distance. The truth just materializes out of thin air.
While there is something special about Colossal’s subtle approach. There are too many missing details to feel the fully weight of the message it wants to deliver.
Is Gloria really that big of a drunk? Is she really trying to stop drinking? What’s her relationship with her own family? Why exactly did Gloria lose her job? How did the fallout affect her? What was her life really like in New York? Was she really a terrible girlfriend? How did her boyfriend treat her on a daily basis? How good of friends were Gloria and Oscar while they were growing up?
Answers to all of these questions are either skipped or slightly grazed. Unfortunately all of my biggest questions are aimed at Gloria, the main character. She feels like an incomplete character with no real past or connections.
It doesn’t ruin the emotional punch Colossal delivers at the end, but the lack of understanding of Gloria’s character does diminish it a little. Luckily Oscar picks up the slack and Jason Sudeikis gives a solid performance, showing a new side to his acting ability.
Mitt Romney from Saturday Night Live he is not.
Oh yeah, there’s the whole thing about the playground monster portal. While a bit blasé, it’s a good enough trick. It just could have been better. And it seems as if Colossal even knew that.
In one scene, the characters are sitting around a table after bar close. One of Oscar’s friends is showing the others a trick that involves an empty tea bag. The trick is supposed to be accompanied by a long winded story. Oscar prods him to skip the story and just do the trick, saying, “If the trick is good enough, you don’t need the story.”
Heeding the prompt, the friend skips the story and just lights the empty tea bag on fire. The burning fabric wafts swiftly towards the darkened rafters. Barely impressed, Oscar quips that it’s “probably better with the story.”
Colossal has a mighty fine trick up its sleeve. But the delivery lets it down.