Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Why do you go to the movies? Do you go for escapism? To escape the everyday droning of politics and work. Perhaps you use films as a mental break, you don’t really want to think about the film, you just want a regular, popcorn stuffing movie, nothing more. I think most movies meet this criteria, they are meant as entertainment, the best movies, though, they make you think, they force you to examine things from a different perspective. Some films, want to do this, but just cannot quite hit the mark, sure they elicit conversation, but not all conversation is productive. Colossal is a film that was marketed as some sort of comedy/monster movie, but it actually has something to say, whether or not that something is accurate, well that is up to the viewer to decide and interpret for themselves.
Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an alcoholic screw up that has been out of work for over a year. Her live in boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) becomes fed up with Gloria’s irresponsible antics and after failing to come home one night and appearing drunk and hungover the next morning, Tim has Gloria’s bags packed up and asks her to not be home when he arrives home from work. Gloria, needing a change, takes off to her hometown, where she runs into an old school friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who offers her a job at a bar. As soon as she begins working, Gloria falls into the same old routine of getting drunk every night, now with Oscar enabling her and of course she is likely doing the same for him. After one drunken stupor, Gloria stumbles her way home through a park before crashing on her living room floor. When she awakens, she discovers when she is near this park, she can control a colossal monster who manifests in South Korea. Can Gloria get her act together and maybe not kill thousands of Koreans? Or will she continue to be irresponsible and continue her downward spiral?
I usually attempt to focus solely on the movie, you know, the acting, the director, the editing, the plot etc. But this film made such a bold statement, that I feel what it is at least trying to say needs to be included in the final rating of the film. Let’s get the basics out of the way before we dive into the heavy stuff. The acting was good, Jason Sudeikis was especially surprising, didn’t know he had such good acting chops to be frank, the rest of the cast, were adequate. The plot attempts to insert this monster movie element, but it was pretty clumsy and almost served to distract from the true message of the film, really the monster was nothing more than a metaphor. If there is any issue with the plot, it would be the way the film was marketed, implying this was some sort of comedy, when really it is a kind of heavy drama if anything. And what is that message you ask? Well, naturally that is open for interpretation, but I think I have an idea where the director was going.
The film seems to want to be about empowerment, specifically empowering women, or at least a woman, Gloria. I applaud the positive female message the Director wants to send, but really, he absolutely failed miserably in his delivery. Gloria basically is a self made screw up who is the actual toxic person in her relationship with Tim, however, by the end of the film, Tim is the real bad guy, apparently he only threw her out because he wanted her crawl back to him? It is a little hard to follow honestly, since more likely than not, Tim was the victim in that relationship, so attempting to flip the script on him was hard to accept as the viewer. Oscar is the most interesting character and as I stated before he is played well by Jason Sudeikis, he starts off friendly enough, but Oscar is a dark man, it is difficult to dive into why without getting super spoilery and if you read this site, that isn’t something I like to do, however I will say, he’s abusive. The only other two men with significant lines in this movie is a horny 20-something with only one thing on his mind and a coke head. So basically, men are garbage and Gloria must find a way to fight through this mess to empower herself. Geez, that’s a strong message Mr. Director, oh and did you forget that Gloria’s monster actually kills an unknown number of Koreans? Most likely thousands of nameless Koreans die, due to her irresponsible drinking. I think if you want to make a movie with a statement, you should likely hold the protagonist accountable for the mass murder thing, just tossing that out there, oh and maybe care a little that a lot of Koreans died? I don’t know, just a smidge?
This is one of those movies that dabbles in multiple genres, only it doesn’t execute any one genre well. The monster movie aspect of it wasn’t very good, the drama in the movie was almost there, but it was still missing better character development and plot. I don’t think it is a terrible movie I actually love the fact that this film will make people debate over what the movie is saying. The issue is, in my humble opinion, it doesn’t really say anything well, it is basically a one sided conversation with the Director in what he perceives is a positive message about empowerment for his female lead. I don’t believe a woman needs the men around her to be a group of scumbags and for them to fail in order for her to succeed, a strong woman can succeed all on her own with or without men in her life.
The film is on Hulu if you want to give it a go, check it out, it may just be that conversation starter you were looking for, however if you just want a movie for the entertainment value, it might not be for you.