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Laramie Movie Scope: Downsizing

Let's get small

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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December 27, 2017 – This movie about a man who is shrunk down to a very tiny size, along with a lot of other people, is part environmental drama, and part romantic comedy. Unlike most films these days, it is fairly original. The plot has plenty of twists and turns, but it ends up being predictable.

Matt Damon stars as Paul Safranek, an underachieving good guy who drops out of college to take care of his aged mother. He works in a meat packing plant as an occupational therapist. He is happily married to Audrey (Kristen Wiig of “Ghostbusters”) but their lifestyle seems less than they would like.

Paul and Audrey become interested in downsizing, taking advantage of new technology to become tiny little people. Because their physical needs are so much less as small people, they can retire in style in a special community built for small people. The idea behind the shrinking technology is to save the planet from ecological disaster, but most people who choose to become small just want to live better and not have to work anymore.

In a plot twist, Paul ends up small, divorced and alone in a downsized community, Leisureland. Rather than retiring, he ends up working as a telemarketer. Lonely and bored, Paul ends up taking an unknown drug and crashing at a big party thrown by his upstairs neighbor, Dusan Mirkovic (Christoph Waltz of “Spectre”). When he wakes up on the floor, he sees a young Vietnamese woman working as a janitor, Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau of “Inherent Vice”) and ends up working with her.

Ngoc Lan Tran is famous, a dissident who was downsized as punishment. She nearly died while being smuggled into the United States inside a TV box. Paul goes with Tran and finds out there is a whole other community just outside Leisureland, a kind of slum where more tiny people live. It is a place where Paul can use his skills to help sick people. He becomes like a doctor.

Tran picks up leftover food from the rich people in Leisureland and takes it back to the slum where she helps feed hungry people. While Tran had spent years in prison and had lost part of her leg in an accident, she doesn't feel sorry for herself. She spends her time caring for others. Paul, who had felt sorry for himself, found out there are a lot of people a lot worse off than he is.

This is where another big twist happens in the story, and Paul and Tran find themselves on a tiny boat owned by Dusan's friend Konrad (Udo Kier of “Nymphomaniac: Vol. II”) sailing on a fjord in Norway. There, Paul must make a momentous decision that will determine the course of the rest of his life.

This reminds a bit of the old saying by John Lennon, “Life is what happens to you while you are busy making other plans.” Paul, time and again, thinks he has made good plans for his future, but, time and again, it turns out his true path lies in a different direction.

This is a funny, touching romantic comedy about a hard-headed man who luckily finds himself surrounded by wise friends who help him find his way in life. He finds love and purpose in life, despite his foolish plans. Matt Damon, Hong Chau and Christoph Waltz all give winning performances in this film. It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2017 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]