August 14, 2009

Gigantic

Reviewer: Jeffrey M. Anderson
Rating (out of 5): **½

Gigantic is one of those movies that checks off a list of Quirky Things: The hero works in a warehouse selling expensive beds. He wants to adopt a Chinese baby and has dreamed of doing so since he was a kid. He meets a girl called "Happy," who says and does weird, spontaneous things, when she comes into the mattress store and falls asleep on the merchandise. Happy's father has back trouble and must ride in cars lying horizontally. His father is 80 years old. At one point, he meets with his father and brothers to eat psychedelic mushrooms and go hunting. A random homeless man continually tries to beat up or shoot the hero. As always in movies like this the hero, Brian Weathersby (Paul Dano, Little Miss Sunshine), is quiet and sullen and sort of depressed. He has at least one friend who dispenses quirky advice. The director photographs things in half-darkness, in widescreen, with little movement and lots of pauses for the quirky dialogue. Everything works out in a happy, quirky kind of way.

It reminded me of Thumbsucker and a lot of other movies in that QuirkyIndie realm (most of them developed and/or shown at Sundance). Fortunately, co-writer and director Matt Aselton has cast some good actors that can fill in the blanks. John Goodman, as Happy's father, has played many similar roles in the Coen brothers' films and has a gift for gruffness that works counter to the quirkiness. Ed Asner really savors his dialogue, taking charge of every scene he's in. And, of course, Zooey Deschanel always seems to occupy her own weird, wonderful universe; she's so natural and so comfortably occupies her own persona that she never appears to be acting.

Dano, however, gets the short end of the stick and plays Brian literally; it's a bit of a lifeless shuffle. There's nothing inside, nothing to connect the film with the emotions of living people. Considering the odd state of unreality in which he lives, it seems like a bad idea to let him become an adoptive father. Coming up with a list of quirky things shows some kind of imagination, I guess, but ultimately it's little more than a list.

The 2009 DVD release from Vivendi Entertainment comes with two short deleted scenes, both with the same "quirky" tone, and an "alternate" scene. There's a stills gallery that plays automatically (you can't skim through it). We also get a trailer for this and other DVD releases, including a new Mariah Carey film called Tennessee that has to be seen to be believed.



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Posted by cphillips at August 14, 2009 2:57 PM
Comments

Hey Guys,
I’ve been thinking about the movie “gigantic” which I rented & watched last night. I grabbed it based on the good actors and a bit into the movie I wondered why they chose to be in it. After some deliberation I realized John Goodman’s character revealed himself to be Wall Street, literally Wall Street, horizontal pavement and all it represents (e.g. skyscrapers perpendicular to his horizontal transported prone position.) The other characters and dialogue seemed to be a montage of cultures/countries and economies.
Let’s take Brian, he was the new, young American wanting above board relationships with China since he was eight years old; probably after having seen the nightly news of Tiananmen Square. Do the math.
Okay you’ve probably guessed Mai’s character. When we think of Mai, we think of Spring; when we think of Spring, we think of emerging; and, when we think of gigantic, yep, that would be China.
Moving on, what about the Old Guard? That would be Brian’s brother, in bed so to speak with the Japanese making deals under the table with Russia and China and always carrying his rifle (Cold War) though distasteful, hence, vomit.
Maybe we should see Brian’s attacker as Terrorists impeding the young American’s goal of embracing the world; striking at will, difficult to identify, difficult to injure, requiring face-to-face understanding of the Terrorists issues to gain resolution.
How about Happy? She is the daughter of Wall Street, the conduit of money and will be the link with baby China Mai.
Got to leave now, but let me know if you find other things along this line about the characters or what you think about my take on this movie…
dennis@earths-images.com

Posted by: dennis at August 16, 2009 4:04 PM

Hey, Jeffrey and Dennis--
I,too, saw Gigantic last week and while I never thought for a second about Dennis' theory while watching the film, now that I read it afterward, it makes sense. But with a film like this, so many things can make sense. Is the homeless man imaginary (even if the bruises he gives the Dano character are not -- unless, of course, they are self-inflicted)? The guy does seems to disappear, after which our hero gets his life in order. That was my biggest question, yet I thoroughly enjoyed this film -- for its quietude and unhurried gait. And the cast is wonderful, too. I'd recommend it to fans of the offbeat. And on the quirk scale, it does not come even CLOSE to "Garden State."

Posted by: James van Maanen at August 18, 2009 8:00 PM
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