Weekend Movies: Five Reasons to Watch Colossal (2016)
I walked into Colossal (2016) thinking it would be a fun, campy movie about a monster. Boy, was I wrong – I sold this sucker way short based on synopsis alone. The story follows Gloria (Anne Hathaway), a woman who realizes that she’s somehow the gigantic monster that’s terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. It’s far more than what it appears on paper. Here are five reasons to watch it this weekend.
#1 – Alcoholism
Trigger warning: if you or someone you know is an alcoholic, you’re going to get slapped with this theme early on. Gloria has a problem with the bottle, and she’s moved from functioning alcoholic to someone whose life has entered the tailspin phase. Her life’s a mess: she has no job, her relationship is in shambles, and she’s forced to move back home. It’s not pretty in the least, and she knows she needs help, but can’t quite ask for it. This aspect can be hard to watch, but it’s honest and it throws it all out there for us to see. Her drinking isn’t funny, as it’s portrayed in most comedies – it’s a problem that’s destroying her life bit by bit. This film presents alcoholism without the judgment and hand-wringing.
#2 – The Nice Guy
Slow clap for Jason Sudeikis, who plays bar owner Oscar in this film. Over the years, Sudeikis has been quietly building his dramatic performance portfolio. We still expect to see him doing funny things thanks to his time on Saturday Night Live because he’s a talented comedian. However, a role like Oscar helps drive home that he can act. He does a great job here as Oscar, the dude who appears so sweet and helpful and lovelorn, then turns slowly and deliberately into the dreaded Nice Guy: someone who thinks he’s owed something, who the world done wronged, and is a fucking nightmare to escape. I hope more people notice him doing this kind of work, because he fit so well here.
#3 – It ticks off the Godzilla box
Godzilla fans, unite! I’m really surprised that this film didn’t do as well at the box office because of the giant-monster-smashes-big-city component. You’d think that in the age of things like Pacific Rim (2013) that we’d be cheering the huge battles – let’s face it, that was half of the appeal of Power Rangers, which continues to get love from fans that have grown up. This film can be serious, but it’s also got a cool monster destroying a city, and a monster-on-monster battle. That’s got to count for something.
#4 – It’s equal parts funny and serious
For a film that was advertised as light-hearted and funny, it does have some serious moments (see above). The deft part about this effort is the fact that it strikes a balance between serious and funny. Watching Hathaway dance and seeing the monster mimic her movements is pretty funny. So are her moments of realizing that she’s the creature, which she plays with excellent comedic timing and charm. It reminds us why we liked her so much pre-Les Miserables (2012) awards show campaign (you know exactly what I’m talking about – that awards campaign was obnoxious, and it’s taken a bit to forgive her). The true skill comes from packing in a heavy theme and lesson. That’s art.
#5 – The message
So, the message here, without spoilers: it’s all about overcoming your circumstances. I don’t want to give away too much since the impact of the plot as it unfolds is pretty deep. That said, the cast does a great job here. There’s so much feeling and warmth integrated into this film, and it presents themes and scenarios rather than beats us with them. I think it has the potential for someone who is struggling to see this film and embrace its message of breaking free. The world’s a tough place with hurting people, and there’s a chance you’ll see yourself here.
Colossal is available for streaming on Hulu.