Part daikaiju-on-the-loose rampage, part quirky romantic comedy-drama a la 28 Days, the risky and occasionally thrilling Colossal doesn’t always deliver on its gonzo promise but, hey, it’s still got plenty of charm.
Anne Hathaway stars as Gloria, a big city-dwelling blogger, screw-up whose boozy all-nighters prompt her long-suffering Wall Street boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens, riding high with Legion and Beauty and the Beast) to pack up her stuff and give her the boot. Penniless and jobless, Gloria abandons Manhattan for her quaint upstate New York hometown, where she crashes on an air mattress in her parents’ abandoned house and gets a job at—where else?—a half-remodeled local bar run by a shearling jacket-wearing childhood pal named Oscar (Jason Sudeikis in the Jason Sudeikis role). Hmmm, city girl and all-American everyday dude; how many Rachel Getting Married-style Anne Hathaway indies does this already sound like?
Anyway, the situation becomes much grabbier once the heroine awakens from another bender and learns on TV that a 1,000-foot tall lizard beastie (don’t call it Godzilla; there’s already been a lawsuit about just that) has been wreaking havoc in Seoul, Korea, every day at 8:05 a.m. Funny how the monster always seems to stomp and massacre the morning after Gloria and her coked-up townie buds (Austin Stowell and the always welcome Tim Blake Nelson) have been out on sharp-tongued benders that leave Gloria mysteriously standing in a playground sandbox near her home. Funny, too, how our messed-up heroine feels a deep connection with the creature—maybe because it’s a beast within, the raging avatar of her fractured, angry psyche, and she’s set it loose on the world. She even demonstrates to her friends how the giant lizard’s erratic movements mirror her own tics and gyrations. All she needs to do is take a step or make a hand gesture and, thousands of miles away in Korea, monster madness reigns.
The movie, written and directed by Spanish moviemaker Nacho Vigalondo (check out his endearing Extraterrestrial) serves up lots of tasty ideas about whether or not Gloria and the secondary characters can get a grip on their sense of entitlement and self-importance long enough to do the right thing. The movie also asks who, exactly, are the heroic ones—those who stay rooted to their small towns or those who strike out for parts unknown? Do the ones who stayed behind nurse resentment toward those who left? Interesting concepts, but they’re sort of brought up and dropped once one of Gloria’s pals starts unleashing pandemonium of his own in Seoul as this gargantuan robot that—well, you have to see it for yourself.
Hathaway, who often seems like she’s trying too hard, is otherwise nicely wry and self-satirizing here and she handles Vigolando’s dark humor, satire and edgy observations about gender in stride. But even in a bizarre comedy like Colossal, she and Sudeikis get asked to do such idiotic and inexplicable stuff as the plot thickens that, by the time the all characters strip off their masks and reveal their low down dirty selves, we’ve kind of given up on them, even if we find them cool and funny. Still, though Colossal doesn’t match the promise of its wackadoo concept, it’s a wildly comic and eccentric oddity that wins points for sheer originality and for nice, left-field performances.