Colossal (2016) stomps a Godzilla flick into a giant-radioactive-lizard-sized black comedy about addiction. The premise: when party-hard Gloria, played by Anne Hathaway, gets tanked, she unwittingly summons a mega-monster that has a tendency to lay waste to the world-away city of Seoul, South Korea, around that sobering hangover-time of 8:05 AM. Through some inebriated sleuthing that involves genitalia-indicating dances, Gloria is eventually able to put this all together.
Nacho Vigalondo’s directorial proceedings teeter at the edge of the pop-baroque precipice, but Colossal never falls off. The movie offers enough twists and turns to remain entertaining and distract its audience from thinking too deeply about Gloria’s flight from New York City and her own cheap beer and boozey monsters to a picturesque small town that conveniently boasts an empty family mansion or… summer home. Sorting out details like these should matter, but in an era when most nights are nostalgic for mixtapes and wind up clinging to the cineplex-bar set by Gaurdians of the Galaxy 2, who the fuck is counting; Colossal’s hangovers are palatable.
If Colossal has a neck cramp, it is its concept, which elbows into the proceedings too often, drawing attention to its high-low cultural mélange. At its dullest, toys from childhood account for monsters’ particular forms. Heavy handed moments like these aren’t embedded and wind up overshadowing the film’s own humanity.
Then there is the veritable shit-ton of devices: people navel-gazing into phones; people waving tablets; people loping about with laptops stuffed under their arms; people in low angle shots lit with crappy blue accents from overhead projectors; people almost getting run over by 4:3 behemoth ‘90s circa TVs on wheels. It is a mise en abyme of screens straight into the abyss. While this is arguably an accurate depiction of our modern age and screen relationships, it is also gross to look at in the cinema; it is everyone’s morning, work-life, and downtrodden device-y gaze. It is never thought out and largely evasive of whatever narrative solutions might be unearthed with deeper thought or even a walk in the woods.
If the movie escapes the fate of being crushed by these missteps, the credit goes to Hathaway. Her performance feels real as someone unsure of whether or not they want to kick the habit or have one more alcohol infused blackout whirl on the party-go-round. She’s slightly paunchy, raccoon-eyed, and not too picky about her drinking companions or where she passes out. Hathaway’s Gloria is flawed just like the vehicle Colossal; what is admirable though is that both try to do something a little more, and it is there that they make you want to watch them try.