Tuesday, May 2, 2017


Let's say you're a rageaholic, or a raging alcoholic--or some other out of control type. You might not even be aware of the damage your behavior may be doing to innocent lives. And with that I've given you a big one-up on everyone else who may be quite clueless themselves as to the deeper meanings behind Colossal--the quirkiest and most thought provoking film to come down the pike since Alejandro Inarritu's Birdman. Of course, that's just one take on it. You may come away with something different. That's the beauty of this Beast. It will make you scratch your head and use your...noodle! (Some folks don't want that--they want it all spelled out for them.)

Anne Hathaway (who also produced the film, so she's in it up to her sweet derriere ) plays Gloria--a kooky chick with apparent memory problems stemming from her being drunk a lot. She lives with her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), in his New York apartment...but not for long. As the film opens, he is in the process of kicking her aforementioned ass to the curb. He's fed up with her ongoing bullshit. She can't believe it. She doesn't think she's that bad (they never do). 

She lands back in her upstate hometown, squatting in her parents' abandoned house. On the way there she runs into her old childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who operates a local bar. He obligingly takes her on as a waitress. They sit around after hours and drink, which seems to suit Gloria just fine. Then comes a BIG twist--as big as when the space invaders appear out of nowhere in Cowboys And Aliens. A gigantic kaiju monster shows up in Seoul, South Korea and begins doing what all Godzilla-esque creatures do over in Tokyo, and that is to stomp around (innocently enough in its brain, you always get the feeling) knock down a few buildings and terrorize the populace. (Cue Carol King singing "I feel the earth...move... under my feet...")  And while it's not Japan, the people of Seoul know the drill...run for your lives!!! These scenes of terrified folk scurrying thither and yon may be the most believable thing in the movie--if you're going to take everything at face value. But you don't want to do that.

Gloria, sleeping it off in the local park, wakes and watches live news reports of the monster on her mobile device. Then the strangest thing. She discovers that when she raises her arm, the monster raises its arm. Any movements she makes, it follows in sync. She's doing a Howdy Doody number on a colossal creature thousands of miles away! Not only that, but when Oscar shows up at the park, there appears a humongous robot counterpart to the monster that begins following his every move! The monster and the robot become giant projections of Gloria and Oscar. This is where it starts getting real good! And this is where I'll leave you hangin.'  Except to say, in philosophical terms, the micro is the macro. 

Wait...here's a little more. There are flashback scenes to when Oscar and Gloria were kids together that give some plausible explanation as to why they are able to do what they are doing (as plausible as it gets in Colossal, anyway!)    

If you think in terms of metaphor, it's easy to come up with shades and shards of meaning. The butterfly effect. Personal responsibility. The seemingly insignificant (to us) things we do can have far-reaching consequences--creating monstrous bugaboos on the scale of global warming, for one.  

Approaching the Gloria and Goliath climactic scene, I was getting an adrenaline rush that evoked the first time I saw Rocky. That's a film I've viewed multiple times, and I will see Colossal again--you bet!  ( Will prolly buy it when it comes out on DVD.)

This is why I go to the movies. To be swept into another world.  Even one as off the wall as this. There is plenty of precedent for this kind of whimsy. We've rubbed elbows with the Mad Hatter...defied gravity with Uncle Albert (how stoned was that guy?)...and would have gladly loaned E.T. our smart phone--if they had been invented in 1982--and eavesdropped on his loooong distance call. 

As Bill Murray once said: It could happen! 

Grade:  A

I knew there was a good reason I left Tucson for California: you Arizonans are crazy! Only a crazy person would sit through this sci-fi monster movie twice.... As you must know by now, I want my films "all spelled out." (Thanks, Tim.) And spelled out Colossal isn't. I did leave the theater scratching my head. But it was due to the pounding in my brain from so many cinematic inconsistencies. I was hoping Tim might explain why these alcohol-induced monsters appeared in Seoul rather than in the aforementioned park? And why, if they represented the monster in all of us who over indulge, they looked so unlike the people whose rage created them? (The art director must have been Korean.) 
But I must admit I never got bored. And among the myriad points the script kept trying to make, I did love the idea that Jason Sudeikis' character – trapped in a town with nothing to do but drink and be a nobody-- got totally hooked on his monster's power. (He could finally "be somebody.") This made me think of all the serial killers who feel a rush every time they pull the trigger. It didn't, however, save this film from being a mish-mash of too many metaphors.

There have been many films that dwell on the evils of drink (Lost WeekendLeaving Las Vegas28 Days) but they all have one point to make: too much alcohol can destroy you both literally and psychologically. Alas, Colossal gets overloaded with messages about the monsters in all of us who abuse booze. But too much thinking about drinking can make a very confusing movie....

Grade: C+