Opening this week

‘Downsizing’ film review: A neat idea that falls short

Despite charming performances and a highly relevant theme, Alexander Payne’s comedy lacks height.

Alexander Payne’s comedies, in equal parts caustic and sweet-natured, revolve around the misadventures of ordinary Americans. His new movie Downsizing isn’t, as the title suggest, a satire about the diminished economic circumstances of the human race, but the name of a project aimed at delivering a radical solution to climate change, overpopulation, disappearing resources and excessive consumption.

The setting is the foreseeable future, the theme one that has been previously explored by the 1990s Japanese television series Ultra Q. Norwegian scientist Jorgen (Rold Lassgard) has created a method to shrink human beings to five-inch versions of themselves. Jorgen tests out his discovery on himself and a group of willing participants, and the idea spreads all over the world, including the land of super-sized burgers and gargantuan homes with two-car garages.

Among the latest potential residents of Leisureland, a community of little people, are occupational therapist Paul (Matt Damon) and his wife Audrey (Kristen Wiig). They are taken with the idea of shrinking themselves to better afford the luxuries that are absent from their normal-sized lives, but Audrey chickens out at the last hour, leaving Paul to a life of potential loneliness and boredom.

A pair of flamboyant neighbours (Christoph Waltz and Udi Kier) and militant Vietnamese activist Ngoc (Hong Chau), who has been shrunk against her will, introduce Paul to a new life and a new set of adventures, many of which are not nearly as amusing or insightful as they could have been.


Part of the movie’s inability to carry through its conceit is the startling lack of difference between normal existence and Leisureland. Every detail in the regular world is replicated without imagination, whether it is the clothes, the furniture, and even the happy pill that Paul swallows at a party.

Without no distinguishing feature or uniqueness, Leisureland is eventually a miniaturised mirror image of the world as we know it, with the same prejudices, inequalities and false beliefs. Shrunken bodies do not limit the human proclivity for bad choices and questionable decisions. As the none-too-bright Paul stumbles about in his quest for meaning, his experiences are no different than if he had been teleported a Norwegian Legoland or, for that matter, a human colony on Mars.

Damon’s telegenic charm injects some interest in his bland character’s journey. Paul’s encounters with Ngoc shake him out of his white-collar stupor and sense of entitlement, and even though Hong Chau is saddled with a questionable pidgin English accent and a bad temper, she emerges as the movie’s most lively character.

Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor don’t tack enough inches on to what could have been a nifty idea for our greed-filled times. The most sustainable idea in Downsizing is that the Utopia promised by the titular project is no better than the anxiety-ridden present. Whether at 56 inches or five, humankind is doomed, and Downsizing gets at least this bit right.

Support our journalism by subscribing to Scroll+ here. We welcome your comments at
Sponsored Content BY 

Get ready for an 80-hour shopping marathon

Here are some tips that’ll help you take the lead.

Starting 16th July at 4:00pm, Flipkart will be hosting its Big Shopping Days sale over 3 days (till 19th July). This mega online shopping event is just what a sale should be, promising not just the best discounts but also buying options such as no cost EMIs, buyback guarantee and product exchanges. A shopping festival this big, packed with deals that you can’t get yourself to refuse, can get overwhelming. So don’t worry, we’re here to tell you why Big Shopping Days is the only sale you need, with these helpful hints and highlights.

Samsung Galaxy On Nxt (64 GB)

A host of entertainment options, latest security features and a 13 MP rear camera that has mastered light come packed in sleek metal unibody. The sale offers an almost 40% discount on the price. Moreover, there is a buyback guarantee which is part of the deal.

Original price: Rs. 17,900

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Samsung 32 inches HD Ready LED TV

Another blockbuster deal in the sale catalogue is this audio and visual delight. Apart from a discount of 41%, the deal promises no-cost EMIs up to 12 months.

Original price: Rs. 28,890

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 10,900

Intel Core I3 equipped laptops

These laptops will make a thoughtful college send-off gift or any gift for that matter. Since the festive season is around the corner, you might want to make use of this sale to bring your A-game to family festivities.

Original price: Rs. 25,590

Big Shopping Days price: Rs. 21,900


If you’ve been planning a mid-year wardrobe refresh, Flipkart’s got you covered. The Big Shopping Days offer 50% to 80% discount on men’s clothing. You can pick from a host of top brands including Adidas and Wrangler.

With more sale hours, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days sale ensures we can spend more time perusing and purchasing these deals. Apart from the above-mentioned products, you can expect up to 80% discount across categories including mobiles, appliances, electronics, fashion, beauty, home and furniture.

Features like blockbuster deals that are refreshed every 8 hours along with a price crash, rush hour deals from 4-6 PM on the starting day and first-time product discounts makes this a shopping experience that will have you exclaiming “Sale ho to aisi! (warna na ho)”

Set your reminders and mark your calendar, Flipkart’s Big Shopping Days starts 16th July, 4 PM and end on 19th July. To participate in 80 hours of shopping madness, click here.


This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Flipkart and not by the Scroll editorial team.