10.27.2009

Gigantic - Movie Review

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Gigantic
*----

I rented Gigantic for two reasons. One was that it had Zooey Deschanel, who I'm sometimes drawn to in the same way my fiancee is drawn towards Michael Cera, which is to say I'm a stalker. The second reason is its trailer struck me as a quirky, fun, and charming comedy. What I discovered is that the film is quite quirky, yet lacks all of those other attributes. For the sake of a review snippet: it's a gigantic mess.

The film is centered around Brian, played by Paul Dano who I really liked in Little Miss Sunshine until I realized he could talk. Brian is on the verge of fulfilling his life-long dream of adopting a Chinese baby. Why? Because he's quirky. That's why. He's also constantly stalked (much in the same way I stalk Zooey Deschanel) by a homeless Zach Galifianakis who attacks him without reason before mysteriously disappearing. Why does he attack him other than the fact that it's both scary and quirky? Has quiet-nature Brian upset him somehow, or is this homeless man even real at all? I'd say you'd go with your disappointed gut on that one, but I will say that the answer lends Brian to be a less suitable candidate for a solo parental figure than I would have hoped.

However, much is in store for Brian when he meets Zooey Deschanel after she passes out on one of his recently sold mattresses. Upon waking they undergo a conversation which remarkably mimics every other conversation they have throughout the rest of the movie, which is essentially structured as "That's amazing,' "you think this is amazing?" "no, I'm actually talking about something else, but that's amazing too." Oh ha ha ha, you quirky bastards. I'm amazed at how flat many of these jokes land. It might look good on paper, but on screen the timing doesn't quite match up, the editing doesn't keep pace, and the characters don't react in quite the right way that they should, and no, quirkiness is not a good excuse.

Limitations are in desperate need here. At its very core Gigantic has a lot of good ideas. Gigantic ideas I should say. But those ideas are overwhelmed by quirky character gimmicks, useless set pieces, unnecessary scenes, and endless narrative alleyways that have no distinct destination. The film begins with a scientist musing on the floundering ability for a rat to swim. I assumed it would have a significant commentary on the story, in how maybe it relates to relationships, you know, like good screenplays usually do. In retrospect I'm still stumped. Maybe I'm not quirky enough to get it.

The film has a number of great performances. Paul Dano is quite good, so is Zooey. John Goodman gives his character life and a sense of strange realism that has to be appreciated. Ed Asner is simply charming in all the right ways. The rest is jumbled, messy, and made for a film festival circuit, not for those seeking something to be enjoyed. For me, that's very disappointing.

Miss it.

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