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