April 14, 2017 at 12:20 a.m.
Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo
The monsters in Nacho Vigalondo’s “Colossal” are not always apparent and the romantic comedy tropes that we are used to seeing Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis in are missing from the Spanish director’s offbeat and surprisingly touching new film. The original concept starts with a Kaiju film, then adds a muted version of Hathaway’s booze influenced character from “Rachel Getting Married” and finally Sudeikis flaunting a side we haven’t seen before. It’s like a carnival freakshow. You go in a skeptic, witness some magic, and leave feeling sympathetic.
25 years ago a Godzilla-like creature appeared in Seoul and quickly vanished. No one has seen it ever since and only one photograph of the kaiju exists. Fast forward to the present where the gigantic monster has resurfaced, this time causing havoc in South Korea’s capital city. But wait, an enormous robot has appeared alongside the monster in what resembles a scene from the Japanese series Ultraman. The entire world is glued to their televisions to watch the extraordinary events unfold as the two battle, dance, and look perplexed.
Meanwhile, party girl Gloria (Anne Hathaway) makes another early morning entrance after a night of boozing it up in New York city. The unemployed journalist proves to be too much for her British boyfriend Tim (Beauty and the Beast’s Dan Stevens) who has packed up her belongings and kicked her to the curb. By the look on her face it’s obvious that Gloria didn’t see this coming but the eviction serves as a catharsis for the self-medicating ex-girlfriend.
The jobless and now homeless Gloria decides to get her act together so she moves back to New Jersey to live in her parent’s vacant home. She runs into childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) who’s inherited his dad’s old country-and-western bar and he offers her a job as a waitress. Desperate, she takes the job although it’s not the most optimal line of work for a recovering alcoholic. After hours Gloria, Oscar and his two friends Joel (Austin Stowell) and Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) keep the party rolling usually until sunrise.
The two worlds collide (sounds like a monster film already) when Gloria notices the Seoul monster is mimicking her gestures and after some experimentation she realizes that she can control its actions. Likewise for Oscar who seems to be controlling the giant robot’s every move. As expected there are some very funny moments when the two make the discovery and decide to have a little fun but things quickly take a turn for the ugly and the film’s real monsters are revealed.
There are several layers to Vigalondo’s film which is primarily a drama focused on several forms of abuse and insecurity while the performances by Hathaway and Sudeikis are the driving force behind the capricious narrative. We’ve seen Hathaway do a stellar job of tackling shades of Gloria in the role of Kym from 2008’s “Rachel Getting Married” which is my favorite performance by the actress (Colossal is running a close second). The film is also a platform for Sudeikis to expand the scope of his abilities by showing us a different side that we haven’t seen before. The supporting cast is first rate especially the downplayed Austin Stowell who hits the mark with a subtle performance as the reserved but not naïve Joel.
Anyone who has seen Vigalondo’s past films (Extraterrestrial, Timecrimes) won’t be surprised by the offbeat storyline in “Colossal.” If this is your first rodeo well saddle in and get ready to experience a touching, funny, and original movie that should inspire anyone that’s ever been bullied. Empowering.
(3 ½ stars)
Opens Friday 4/14 in Austin at Alamo Drafthouse Mueller, Lakeline, Slaughter Lane, and South Lamar. Also opening at Violet Crown Cinema, Barton Creek 14, and Regal Arbor 8
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