ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Downsizing. A Review

Updated on January 3, 2018

We made it y'all, 2018 is here and we still have not been wiped out by arctic methane emissions or that zombie apocalypse the internet is so obsessed about. While we wait to be decimated we have to be entertained and what better way to kick off the new year than with a movie. For my first review of 2018 I went with Downsizing, Alexander Payne's newest satire starring Matt Damon.

Downsizing tells the story of Paul Safranek, a man in search of a way to leave his mark on the world while staying as comfortable and safe as possible. When a Norwegian research lab finds a way to shrink humans, among other things, to a fraction of it's current size with no obvious side effects, Paul and his wife Audrey give the idea strong consideration. While the main purpose for downsizing is to start to relieve the Earth from some of humanity's carbon footprint, there are also the far more enticing features such as the favorable monetary exchange rate and getting to live in leisure for the rest of their lives.

Not until after he has had the procedure done does Paul think about the downsides of downsizing, as one character says something to the effect of "Downsizing is great, unless you are poor, then you are just poor AND small.". It is then that Paul must reevaluate his life and true desires to try and make it in a world that is worse than the one he left.

Alexander Payne has had quite a bit of success over his 20+ year career earning himself 3 Academy Award nominations for direction and 3 for writing, winning twice for Sideways(2004) and The Descendants(2011). His 1999 satire, Election is probably my favorite work of his and is a movie that can be enjoyed by anyone, no matter what side of the political isle you walk and Payne is able to hit that bone again with Downsizing. While a bit less overtly comedic as Election, Downsizing tells a full story from start to finish. The satire is subtle but sharp and while there is a bit of a lull in the second act for the most part Downsizing is entertaining.

One of the key aspects of Downsizing is for the filmmakers to get the viewer to not only buy into the idea that Downsizing is plausible, but to get them to think long and hard about weather or not they would do it. I found myself spending about the first 30o minutes of this movie pondering this exact thing and found myself, like Paul and Audrey, thinking more of the lavish life and freedom to live without concern rather than the humanitarian aspect. Great job of world building from Payne and his writing partner Jim Taylor.

2017 was a rough year for Matt Damon, Suburbicon was one of the most disappointing releases of the year and The Great Wall was easily one of the worst. He felt out of place in both roles and really struggled to make either movie better, if anything he probably made them worse. Downsizing sees Damon return to his best self as an innately relatable but ultimately flawed. You want to see Paul overcome his issues in this movie and you feel for him when he has a setback. This is how you properly use Matt Damon, not by sticking him in Song Dynasty era China or as a secret villain and racist.

While Downsizing has a pretty solid cast surrounding Damon featuring Kristen Wiig, Jason Sudeikis and Christoph Waltz the real gem in the supporting category is Vietnamese actress Hong Chau. While she has had roles in movies and TV before Downsizing seems to be her first big role and boy does she shine. Her character comes in about halfway through the movie, but she comes at a critical time just as the plot is starting to fall a bit flat. Chau adds a great deal of comedy to the movie but also brings this outside look at the world of Downsizing and gives the viewer another way to look at the whole thing.

Alexander Payne as stated before is an accomplished director being nominated twice by the academy for Best Director. At first the whole five inch tall people in relation to full size humans felt mishandled, there was an obvious separation between the actors and I blamed the director for screwing up an all important piece of immersion. I mean come on, Peter Jackson figured this out over a decade ago making Lord of the Rings. Thinking back I don't think Payne ever wanted the interactions and comparisons between the normal sized people and the downsized ones to feel natural.

I really do think he intended for there to be some awkwardness between the two, even if he had to force the issue using the camera. Other than that one perceved slip up Payne directs this movie fantastically and seems to hit all the right buttons. When Peter first gets shrunk all of the shots are seemingly showing how impossibly large and out of place everything feels, but by the end of the movie you almost forget that the apartment building they are driving up to is actually a small trailer. Payne may not be as flashy or as talented as some of the best in the business, but he sure does know how to make a movie and make it right.

Downsizing is not a movie that will be bringing home bundles of awards(although Hong Chau was nominated for a Golden Globe for her role) or a ton of money but those things are not what make a movie good or bad. Payne did not make this movie to be an Oscar hopeful or a box office smash, it was a cool idea and lent itself well to cinema. I was not blown away by Downsizing but it was a real solid movie that does a lot of things right. If we can get a few more movies to reach the quality of Downsizing this year and a few less that settle for Suburbicon level, 2018 may just be a little better than 2017.


This website uses cookies

As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

Show Details
HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)