Sunday, January 7, 2018

I, Tonya


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Tonya Harding won't be remembered by most as the first American female figure skater to complete a triple axel in a competition. She won't be remembered as the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships winner. And she won't be remembered as the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships runner-up. Sadly, Tonya Harding will be remembered for the attack on Nancy Kerrigan (although she was not involved in the plan nor did she know anything about it) during practice at the 1994 U.S. Figure Skating Championships in Detroit at Joe Louis Arena, initiated by her ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly; her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt; Shane Stant; & Derrick Smith.

I, Tonya, while slightly focusing more on Tonya Harding's life than on the incident, is a darkly funny, sometimes disturbing, & overall brilliant depiction of the life of one of America's greatest figure skaters along with her involvement in one of the craziest events in human history. Told through interviews & 4th-wall breaks, the film follows Tonya Harding (played as a teenager & an adult by Margot Robbie, & as a child by Mckenna Grace), a budding figure skater. Raised by her absolutely cruel mother, LaVona (played by Allison Janney), Tonya starts skating at the age of 4, & with the help of her coach, Diane Rawlinson (played by Julianne Nicholson), she hones her skills that are rarely seen in figure skating.

Time passes, & Tonya is now 15, brace-faced, with a bad hairstyle, & with almost none of the elegantly feminine qualities embraced by figure skating. However, one person becomes smitten with her: Jeff Gillooly (played by Sebastian Stan). Over the next few years, Tonya moves out of her mother's house & marries Jeff. However, the love between them doesn't last for long; Jeff becomes abusive towards Tonya, even more abusive then her mother.

Over the next few years, Tonya fires Diane & hires Dody Teachman (played by Bojana Novakovic) as her new coach, becomes the first American woman to complete a triple axel, the winner at the 1991 U.S. Figure Skating Championships, the runner-up at the 1991 World Figure Skating Championships, & eventually, the fourth-place finisher at the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France. She returns home, suffers more abuse, & divorces Jeff.

Tonya receives a death threat & is forced to not skate for a couple months. In order to get back at whom they believe to be behind the death threat, Tonya, Jeff, & her bodyguard, Shawn Eckhardt (played by Paul Walter Hauser) decide to mail some threats to Nancy Kerrigan (played by Caitlin Carver) to get back at her. However, Tonya eventually decides to not take part in it.  However, Jeff & Shawn take matters to the next level: take Nancy out of the Figure Skating Championships &, in turn, out of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway by hiring Shane Stant (played by Ricky Russert) & Derrick Smith (played by Anthony Reynolds) to break her knee during practice at the Championships in Detroit, without Tonya's knowledge.

After the attack, Tonya is crucified by the media, including Hard Copy producer Martin Maddox (played by Bobby Cannavale). Her life, along with the lives of Jeff & Shawn, will never be the same.

The cast is phenomenal. Margot Robbie gives her greatest performance yet, disappearing into her role. And it's an absolute transformation, where you don't see Margot Robbie, but you see Tonya Harding. She deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Actress.

Sebastian Stan is both hilarious & disturbing. As Jeff Gillooly, he is both hilariously dumb & extremely abusive, scaring you at every moment. He deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Allison Janney is phenomenal, giving one of the best perforamnces of the year. She is the mother from hell. She is bitingly funny when she's not being absolutely repugnant. She deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress, & her Golden Globe win for Best Supporting Actress was well-deserved.

But the scene-stealer of the film is Paul Walter Hauser. Hauser, an unknown actor from Grand Rapids, MI, is absolutely gut-bustingly hilarious as Shawn Eckhardt. His delusions of grandeur are so hilarious. He also deserves an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actor.

Craig Gillespie's direction is phenomenal. After directing 2007's Lars & the Real Girl & 2016's The Finest Hours, Gillespie has directed his best film yet. Gillespie creates a tense, darkly funny atmosphere that sticks throughout the entire film.

Steven Rogers's screenplay is brilliant. Rogers writes such brilliant dialogue, & creates such absolutely interesting characters. Also, Rogers deals with themes such as abuse, the way media skewers the truth, & the way we view women so brilliantly. Furthermore, it tells the truth about the story of Tonya Harding, which hasn't been very well-told until now.

Nicolas Karakatsanis's cinematography is amazing. Karakatsanis's camerawork uses a variety of long takes, zooms & pans, & uses them all to perfection.

Tatiana S. Riegel's editing is excellent. Riegel takes a lot of cues from Scorsese's long-time editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, with the uses of quick cuts. And Riegel executes them as well as Schoonmaker does.

Jennifer Johnson's costume design is amazing. Johnson has created figure skating costumes that are so realistic & accurate, along with the costumes worn by Tonya Harding that are of a lesser economic fashion.

The makeup & hairstyling is absolutely stunning. From the many bad hairstyles worn by Margot Robbie, to Jeff Gillooly's horrendous moustache, the makeup & hairstyling is transformative & awesome.

And the soundtrack is killer. Featuring songs such as Chicago's 25 or 6 to 4, Siouxsise & the Banshees's The Passenger, & Laura Branigan's Gloria, the soundtrack has so many amazing songs.

This is one of the 3 best films of the year, one of the best dark comedies of all time, & one of the best films I've ever seen. It's filled with excellent performances, excellent direction, & a screenplay that is a work of brilliance.

I, Tonya was seen by me at the MJR Troy Grand Digital Cinema 16 in Troy, MI on Friday, January 5, 2018. It is currently in 4 theaters in the Detroit area: the MJR Troy Grand Digital Cinema 16 in Troy, MI; the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI; the AMC Livonia 20 in Livonia, MI; & the Phoenix Theaters Laurel Park Place in Livonia, MI; the film will expand into more theaters starting Friday, January 12. Its runtime is 120 minutes, & it is rated R for pervasive language, violence, & some sexual content/nudity.

Saturday, January 6, 2018

Molly's Game


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

Aaron Sorkin is one of the most brilliant storytellers of his time. With his rapid-fire dialogue, the "walk-&-talk", & the breakneck editing, Sorkin has created a style that is all his own.

He has now gone behind the camera for his directorial debut, Molly's Game, & what a directorial debut it is. It's thrilling, exciting, & running a mile a minute. Based on the 2014 autobiography of the same name by Molly Bloom, the film follows Molly Bloom (played by Jessica Chastain), a former competitive skier, until she suffered an injury in the qualifiers for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. From her youth, she had a fiercely competitive streak, like her brothers, & she used the fierceness a lot towards her father, Larry (played by Kevin Costner).

She then moves to Los Angeles, instead of going to law school as planned. At her new job, her boss, Dean Keith (played by Jeremy Strong), introduces her to the world of underground poker in Los Angeles, which she eventually parlays that into her own poker game. Attending her poker games are some of the elites, & some who definitely aren't so elite. Most notable are the unlucky Brad (played by Brian D'Arcy James), the headstrong Harlan Eustice (played by Bill Camp), & the cunning actor known as Player X (played by Michael Cera), a supposed amalgamation of Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck & Tobey Maguire.

When this game falters out, Molly then heads out to New York, & starts up a new game where the stakes get even higher for her. The players include Douglas Downey (played by Chris O'Dowd), who introduces Molly to the Russian mob out of Brighton Beach. This only heightens the stakes for Molly, who decides to start taking a rake from the games.

This leads the FBI to arrest her, seizing the money earned from the games. She then gets lawyer Charlie Jaffey (played by Idris Elba) to represent her in court. Jaffey is considered by Molly to be "the only lawyer who isn't shady." Now, Jaffey must try to work out a deal with Molly to get her to work out a deal with the FBI, but Molly doesn't want the last thing she has to be sullied: her name.

The cast is excellent. Jessica Chastain's performance is one of the best of her career. Idris Elba's performance is easily the best of his film career. Kevin Costner gives his best performance in years. And Michael Cera is delightfully villainous, a sharp contrast from his other roles.

Aaron Sorkin's direction is phenomenal. Sorkin makes every moment of this film thrilling, proving he is as great a director as he is a screenwriter.

Aaron Sorkin's screenplay is brilliant. Sorkin's dialogue, much like the dialogue of his other films, fires at all cylinders, going faster than the cars at a NASCAR race.

And the editing by Alan Baumgarten, Elliot Graham & Josh Schaeffer is excellent. Much like other films written by Sorkin, the editing uses so many quick cuts to perfection, making the film's 140-minute runtime feel like a breeze.

This is one of the 10 best films of the year. Featuring excellent performances from Jessica Chastain & Idris Elba, along with another brilliant screenplay from Aaron Sorkin, this proves to be a phenomenal directorial debut for Aaron Sorkin.

Molly's Game was seen by me at the MJR Troy Grand Digital Cinema 16 in Troy, MI on Monday, January 1, 2018. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 140 minutes, & it is rated R for language, drug content & some violence.

Sunday, December 31, 2017

Call Me by Your Name


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

As I stated in my review of The Big Sick back in July, most romantic films manage to be very formualic, following the exact same plotline that had grown tiresome 30 years ago. But every once in a while, there manages to be a film that defies those cliches & becomes a treasure.

Call Me by Your Name has been one of my most anticipated films of the year ever since its premiere at Sundance back in January, with the acclaim being near-unanimous. After its premiere, I waited anxiously until August, when the trailer was released, hyping me up for this film even more. And when I heard it was coming to Detroit 2 weeks earlier than originally stated, I was so happy. I saw it on a Thursday night screening, in a packed theater, 3 rows from the screen, & I was waiting to see if it met my expectations. It didn't meet my expectations. It surpassed them, & it ended up being such a beautiful cinematic experience.

Call Me by Your Name has become one of those aforementioned treasures, & is definitely one of the best romantic films of all time. Based on the 2007 novel of the same name by André Aciman & set in 1983 Italy, the film follows Elio Perlman (played by Timothée Chalamet), a 17-year-old American boy spending the summer in the Italian countryside with his parents, Annella (played by Amira Casar) & Samuel (played by Michael Stuhlbarg). They go to their Italian villa for the summer, Hanukkah & Christmas, since his mother is Christian & his father is Jewish. He spends his time reading books, transcribing music, swimming in the river, going out at night, & hanging out with his girlfriend, Marzia (played by Esther Garrel).

Samuel, an archeology professor, invites one of his students, Oliver (played by Armie Hammer), a 24-year-old Jewish-American graduate student, to live with them for 6 weeks & help Samuel with archeology work. As a result, Elio gives up his room for Oliver & now sleeps in the spare room, which he deeply resents. Also, Elio, besides their shared Jewish heritage, finds little in common with Oliver, who is more extroverted & carefree, always ending conversations by saying "Later!" Also, Oliver becomes attracted to Chiara (played by Victoire Du Bois), a local woman.

The tension between Elio & Oliver is small, but eventually calms when Elio & Oliver come to a truce, eventually starting a friendship. Eventually, Elio becomes attracted to Oliver, & the courtship begins with swims in the river & walks in the town. Their relationship starts to grow further into something more. Together, they navigate their relationship through the summer & become more intimate, finding in each other a true soulmate.

The cast is phenomenal. Timothée Chalamet is an absolute revelation. With this, Hostiles, & Lady Bird, Chalamet has become a major name in Hollywood this year. His performance is the best lead male performance of the year, & as a result, I hope he wins the Oscar for Best Actor. He has the charm of a young Leonardo DiCaprio & the range of a young Edward Norton. He goes through so many emotions throughout the film, & portrays them all so beautifully. Also, he portrays the conflicting feelings of a person coming to terms with their sexual orientation so realistically.

Armie Hammer is also phenomenal. Hammer, who has already given some great performances, namely in 2010's The Social Network & 2011's J. Edgar, has given the best performance of his career. Like Chalamet, Hammer portrays so many different emotions so beautifully, & portrays the conflicting sexual feelings so realistically. Also, his chemistry with Chalamet is so believable that you would believe that they feel like a real couple. He deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

Michael Stuhlbarg is also phenomenal. With this, The Shape of Water, & The Post, Stuhlbarg is starting to get the recognition he deserves after years of being one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. This is the best performance of his career, even better than his excellent performance in 2009's A Serious Man. He is such an absolute scene-stealer in this film, &, in one scene, will leave you in tears. He also deserves to be nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor.

The rest of the cast, especially Casar & Garrel, is also excellent, playing such small but pivotal roles to perfection.

Luca Guadagnino's direction is outstanding. After having directed independent film successes such as 2009's I Am Love & 2015's A Bigger Splash, Guadagnino has directed his best film yet. Guadagnino's direction is subdued, exerting a calmly arresting atmosphere.

James Ivory's screenplay is beautiful. His screenplay has wonderfully adapted Aciman's novel to the big screen. The screenplay feels so beautifully real. Also, I commend Ivory for his screenplay's positive representation of an LGBTQ+ couple. There aren't any fighting or sad backstories. It's just a loving & beuatiful portrayal of a relationship that is sure to connect with all audiences, LGBTQ+ or straight.

Sayohmbu Mukdeeprom's cinematography is gorgeous. Shot on 35mm film, Mukdeeprom's cinematography beautifully captures the relationship & the beautiful sun-draped Italian landscape.

Walter Fasano's editing is excellent. The pacing is perfectly slow, letting the story slowly unfold. There is not a single bad cut in the film, & the film knows where it's going at every moment.

And Sufjan Stevens's original songs are hauntingly beautiful. Stevens, one of my favorite artists of all time, an indie folk artist from Detroit, wrote 2 songs for the film: Mystery of Love & Visions of Gideon, along with a remix of his song Futile Devices from his 2010 album The Age of Adz. All these songs are so amazing, with Mystery of Love being a beautiful portrayal of first love, & Visions of Gideon being a haunting reflection on lost love. Since the Futile Devices remix is ineligible, I hope either Mystery of Love or Visions of Gideon gets nominated & wins the Oscar for Best Original Song, as they are both equally deserving of the award.

This is one of the 3 best films of the year, & one of the best films I've ever seen. It features phenomenal performances, a beautiful screenplay, & some amazing music from the one & only Sufjan Stevens.

Call Me by Your Name was seen by me at the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI on Thursday, December 28, 2017. It is in 1 theater in the Detroit area: the Landmark Main Art Theatre in Royal Oak, MI; it will expand to more theaters this Friday, January 5 & next Friday, January 12, & will be in theaters everywhere Friday, January 19. Its runtime is 132 minutes, & it is rated R for sexual content, nudity & some language.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle


★★★★½ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

I'll just come right out & say it: I've never seen Jumanji. I know, I'm 16 & I should've seen it by now. People are shocked that I haven't seen it, but I've never been interested in it.

So I wasn't interested at first in Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle. The trailer looked formulaic like most action film trailers. But then I heard some really good reviews about the film, & I decided to see it.

I was definitely surprised; I wasn't expecting to be this fun & great. The film follows 4 high school students: Spencer Gilpin (played by Nat Wolff), Anthony "Fridge" Johnson (played by Ser'Darius Blain), Bethany Walker (played by Madison Iseman), & Martha Kaply (played by Morgan Turner). They are all in detention: Spencer wrote Anthony's English paper for him, Bethany was FaceTiming in class, & Morgan disrespected her P.E. teacher & wondering why P.E. was important to education.

Their task in detention is to clean out an old closet. Spencer finds an old video game system with the video game Jumanji in it. It is a five-player video game, but one player, Jefferson "Seaplane" McDonough (played by Nick Jonas), is already selected. Spencer convinces everyone to play it. Spencer selects Dr. Smolder Bravestone (played by Dwayne Johnson), Fridge selects Franklin "Mouse" Finbar (played by Kevin Hart), Martha selects Ruby Roundhouse (played by Karen Gillan), & Bethany selects Professor Shelly Oberon (played by Jack Black).

They are then transported into the world of the game, with the students becoming their selected characters, with Bethany being dismayed she unknowingly picked a male character. Their task is to return the Jaguar's Eye to a jaguar statue & yell out "Jumanji!" They must get it from big game hunter Van Pelt (played by Bobby Cannavale). Besides finding the jewel & beating the game, they must learn how to better themselves.

The cast is hilarious. Johnson, Hart & Black are both hilarious as always. Gillan finally gets to show off her comedic chops. Jonas actually shows he doesn't suck as a comedic actor. And Cannavale is hilariously over-the-top.

Jake Kasdan's direction is excellent. Kasdan shows he can handle a big-budget film, & shows he actually can direct well again, after the dud that was 2014's Sex Tape.

The screenplay by Jake Kasdan, Chris McKenna, Erik Sommers, Scott Rosenberg & Jeff Pinker is amazing. The jokes in the script always land, & the dialogue isn't formulaic.

The editing by Mark Helfrich & Steve Edwards is ok. It has way too many cuts than it should, like most action films, but it makes sure the film gets to where it's supposed to go.

And the visual effects are amazing. The CGI looks great, & the effects are so immersive.

This is the biggest surprise of the year. While it isn't perfect, it manages to be way better than it has any right to be.

Jumanji: Welcome to the Jungle was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Wednesday, December 27, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 119 minutes, & it is rated PG-13 for adventure action, suggestive content & some language.

All the Money in the World


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

The 1973 kidnapping of John Paul Getty III was famous for the fact that John Paul Getty III was the grandson of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty, & infamous for the fact that J. Paul Getty notoriously negotiated the ransom, & eventually decided to loan out the ransom money.

All the Money in the World, while a thrilling account of the kidnapping, is also Ridley Scott's best film in 10 years. Based on the 1995 book Painfully Rich by John Pearson, & set in 1973, the film follows Abigail "Gail" Harris (played by Michelle Williams), the mother of John Paul Getty III (played by Charlie Plummer), & ex-wife of John Paul Getty Jr. (played by Andrew Buchan), the son of oil tycoon J. Paul Getty (played by Christopher Plummer). Gail's divorce from Getty Jr. involved no alimony, which left her less well-off.

On July 10, 1973, Getty III is kidnapped in Rome by Cinquanta (played by Romain Duris), a member of the Italian organized crime syndicate 'Ndrangheta. Gail receives a phone call from Cinquanta, asking for a $17 million ransom in exchange for her son. Although she says she doesn't have money, Cinquanta tells her that her ex-father-in-law has "all the money in the world."

Gail travels to Getty's estate, asking for money for the ransom; however, Getty declines, saying this would only lead to his other grandchildren being kidnapped & asking for $17 million each in ransom. Getty asks Fletcher Chase (played by Mark Wahlberg), an ex-CIA agent, to negotiate the ransom.

Things eventually get tense when winter comes to Italy, prompting the kidnappers to ponder on what to do with Getty III. But things get even worse when Getty becomes greedy about the ransom.

The cast is excellent. Michelle Williams is amazing, & this is easily one of the 5 best performances of her career. Mark Wahlberg is also great, doing some of his best work in a while. But Christopher Plummer's performance is by far the best of this film, & one of the 3 best performances of his career, along with 2009's The Last Station & 2011's Beginners. It's even more phenomenal considering he shot it in 10 days, & was signed on with 6 weeks before the scheduled release date, after Kevin Spacey was replaced after his allegations of sexual assault & sexual harassment. In my opinion, Plummer does a better job than Spacey would've done. Plummer looks more believable without having any old-age makeup like Spacey had. Plummer is absolutely cold, heartless, & purely evil here.

Ridley Scott's direction is amazing. Scott has easily directed his best film since 2007's American Gangster. He keeps us at the edge of our seat for the entire film. And it's more of an accomplishment considering the reshoots with Christopher Plummer. Scott's definitely alive & kicking at 80 years old.

And David Scarpa's screenplay is excellent. It's a great adaptation of John Pearson's novel, & the plot is so undeniably intriguing.

This is one of the best films of the year, & definitely of Ridley Scott's career. It has some great performances (especially from Michelle Williams & Christopher Plummer), & great direction from Ridley Scott.

All the Money in the World was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Monday, December 25, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 132 minutes, & it is rated R for language, some violence, disturbing images & brief drug content.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Greatest Showman


★★★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

As a theater kid, I've always loved musicals. The ways music can be used to tell a story are so inventive & creative, & it's a shame there aren't as many original film musicals anymore.

The Greatest Showman is a welcome addition to cinema, as this is a great throwback to the classic film musical of the 1940s, 1950s & 1960s. Set in the late 1800s, the film follows P.T. Barnum (played by Hugh Jackman), a shipping company clerk who came from humble beginnings. He still lives a humble life with his wife, Charity (played by Michelle Williams), & their two daughters, Caroline (played by Austyn Johnson) & Helen (played by Cameron Seely).

One day, Barnum is let go when the shipping company closes. Wanting to make a better life, he comes up with an idea to build a museum featuring wax figures & other objects. However, this venture goes under. His children then give him the idea to search for interesting people & less attractive people & use them as performers.

Barnum first hires Charles Stratton (played by Sam Humphrey), a little person who is renamed General Tom Thumb. Next, he hires Lettie Lutz (played by Keala Settle), a bearded lady with a powerful singing voice. He hires others before he hires Anna (played by Zendaya) & W.D. (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) Wheeler, a brother-&-sister acrobatic team.

This venture proves to be very successful; however, the venture is slammed by critics & people protest the showcasing of the performers. Barnum, in order to become more credible with the higher class, hires playwright Phillip Carlyle (played by Zac Efron) to run the show alongside him. Carlyle then starts to become attracted to Anna. Also, he hires famed opera singer Jenny Lind (played by Rebecca Ferguson) for the show as well. But success starts to have its price, as Barnum becomes more withdrawn from his family & society starts to become more angry at the show & its performers.

The cast is phenomenal. Hugh Jackman is so magnetic every time he's on the screen, & his charm & singing voice never fail to intrigue me. Zac Efron also does a great job showing his dramatic chops. Michelle Williams is also great, as always, & shows off her amazing singing skills.

Michael Gracey's direction is excellent. Gracey, in his debut film, has the directing skills of a seasoned veteran, with his atmosphere of wonder & amusement exhuming such strong emotions.

The screenplay by Jenny Bicks & Bill Condon is amazing. The plot is extremely intriguing & the script has some great messages.

Seamus McGarvey's cinematography is astounding. McGarvey's camerawork is so colorful & awe-inspiring & filled with so much panache.

The editing by Tom Cross, Robert Duffy, Joe Hutshing, Michael McCusker, Jon Poll & Spencer Susser is excellent. The editing uses a lot of quick cuts popularized by some great directors, & the pacing is great, as the film flows along at a fast pace.

Ellen Mirojnick's costume design is amazing. The costumes are period-accurate & so colorful & full of panache.

Nathan Crowley's production design is awe-inspiring. The sets are so colorful, full of panache, period-accurate & immersive.

The makeup & hairstyling is excellent. It's period-accurate, & in some cases, especially in the case of Keala Settle's character, is transformative.

The sound design is incredible. It's loud & fun, & the amazing music only adds to the great sounds emanating from the film.

And the original songs by Benj Pasek & Justin Paul are amazing. The songs are so catchy & well-written & are a joy to listen to.

This is one of the more surprising films of the year. Don't listen to what some critics are saying. It's a fun throwback to the old-fashioned musicals, led by a great performance from Hugh Jackman.

The Greatest Showman was seen by me at the MJR Chesterfield Crossing Digital Cinema 16 in Chesterfield Township, MI on Saturday, December 23, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 105 minutes, & it is rated PG for thematic elements including a brawl.

Downsizing


★★★ - A Review by Cameron Kanachki

I'm a sucker for satires. Like satires, I also like poking fun at the shortcomings of the bad things in society & the world.

So when I first heard about Downsizing, the new film from Alexander Payne, who directed my favorite darkly comedic satire, 1999's Election, I was instantly sold. It had such a brilliant concept, & a great cast, & I was excited for it to come out.

And then I saw it, & I was disappointed, although I found it to be an ok film overall. Set in the near-future, the film follows Paul Safranek (played by Matt Damon), an occupational therapist for Omaha Steaks. He & his wife, Audrey (played by Kristen Wiig), have major financial issues.

One day, they go to their high school reunion, where they encounter their old friends, Dave (played by Jason Sudeikis) & Carol (played by Maribeth Monroe) Johnson, but there is something different about them. They have become smaller. Way smaller. WAY, WAY, WAY smaller. They have become this way due to the process of "downsizing," an irreversible procedure invented by Norwegian scientists 15 years earlier to help the environment that shrinks humans down to 5 inches. Although the environmental benefits are huge, Dave says the economical benefits are bigger, as your money goes farther when you're small.

So, Paul & Audrey decide to downsize & move to Leisureland, a popular small community. However, while Paul goes through with it, Audrey backs out at the last minute, & files for divorce, not wanting to be away from her parents & friends.

Now single, Paul tries to start anew in Leisureland, regretting his decision. His life is more stressful than he thought it would be. But after he attends a party hosted by his neighbor, Dusan Mirkovic (played by Christopher Waltz), he starts to fit in with his new surroundings.

The next day, still at Dusan's apartment, Paul meets Ngoc Lan Tran (played by Hong Chau), a Vietnamese political activist shrunk against her will by the Vietnamese government, & smuggled into the United States, losing a leg in the process. She is now Dusan's housecleaner. Paul then agrees to help Ngoc Lan help with the people she lives with in the slums of Leisureland. But more problems will arise to the surface.

The cast is great. Damon, Sudeikis & Wiig are good. Waltz is absolutely hilarious, fitting the role of an aging partyboy to a tee. And Chau is nothing short of phenomenal. Looking past her fake Vietnamese accent & fake broken English, there is a lot of emotion in her character.

Alexander Payne's direction is mediocre. His direction starts off great, but takes a bad turn halfway through as he tries to juggle the tonal shifts & new plot directions added on.

The screenplay by Alexander Payne & Jim Taylor is ok. The plot is great to start, but eventually, instead of answering our questions that need to be answered, it adds new stuff that didn't need to be there in the first place.

And Stefania Cella's production design is excellent. The sets of the small communities are so immersive & so brilliantly well-done.

This is a ok, although fairly disappointing film. The acting & visuals save the film. But would I ever downsize if I had the chance? Definitely not. There are just too many risks.

Downsizing was seen by me at the MJR Marketplace Digital Cinema 20 in Sterling Heights, MI on Friday, December 22, 2017. It is in theaters everywhere. Its runtime is 135 minutes, & it is rated R for language including sexual references, some graphic nudity & drug use.