This “Freaky Friday” meets “Godzilla” flick isn’t quite the comedy its trailer makes it out to be, rather, it is an unapologetically dark look at self-destruction, alcohol and relationship abuse, and bullying– all taking shape as a mythical kaiju creature.
Anne Hathaway knows what it’s like to be bullied. The Best Supporting Actress winner (“Les Misérables”) is known for getting her fair share of flack from critics who deem her “strive for perfection” to be annoying, but she has never retaliated towards these haters by transforming into a giant killer monster on a mission to destroy. In “Colossal,” Hathaway plays Gloria, a woman whose experience with a childhood bully ultimately changed her in ways she never knew existed until she is forced to re-examine her life and face her frenemy twenty-five years later.
The sun peeks through the window of the NYC apartment Gloria (Hathaway) shares with her British boyfriend as she creeps in from a late night out. Hair disheveled and smelling of alcohol, her constant drinking and lying prove to be the last straw for her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) as he kicks Gloria out, already having packed her bags for a swift exit. Finding solace in the familiar, she heads back to her childhood home in the suburbs. She begins to settle in to life in the slow lane before running into her childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Despite her pledge to stay away from alcohol, she agrees to work at the local bar Oscar owns while doing her best to stay on the straight and narrow.
While Gloria battles her inner demons stateside, a gigantic monster has begun terrorizing the city of Seoul, South Korea. With seemingly no personal connection to this devastating event, Gloria, along with the rest of the world, looks on in horror as a green mega-monster, who appears and disappears into thin air, destroys buildings, landscapes, and kills anyone in its path. It isn’t until a night alone when Gloria realizes that she is (literally) responsible for the mysterious creature’s actions and is left to figure out, amidst multiple obstacles, how to save Seoul, her relationships, and herself.
Don’t let the film’s traditional first act fool you– while establishing that the character’s world is based in reality, “Colossal” slowly turns up the dial towards far-fetched fantasy…
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo, “Colossal” is an original story in the midst of reboots and remakes. It’s one we’ve never seen before, bursting with creativity and surprises. Don’t let the film’s traditional first act fool you– while establishing that the character’s world is based in reality, “Colossal” slowly turns up the dial towards far-fetched fantasy that, by the end of the film, is a complete 180-degree flip. This “Freaky Friday” meets “Godzilla” flick isn’t quite the comedy its trailer suggests (despite a few laugh out loud moments), rather, it is an unapologetically dark look at self-destruction, alcohol, relationship abuse, and bullying– all taking shape as a mythical kaiju creature.
While the premise is enjoyable, despite being far-fetched, the same can’t necessarily be said for the characters. Hathaway’s Gloria is likable enough, tapping into every fear that a thirty-something-year-old woman who doesn’t necessarily have her life together feels at one point or another. While she may not be sympathetic enough to feel sorry for, mostly because her issues are self-inflicted, we still root for her to succeed. Oscar, on the other hand, starts out as a well-intentioned friend who does everything he can to help Gloria in her time of need. From offering her a job to giving her furniture for her empty house, Oscar seems like the perfect guy to help turn Gloria’s life around. That’s why he seems almost bipolar when he demonstrates such unlikeable qualities about halfway through the film. For example, it’s one thing to show off and assert male dominance around Gloria, but to punch her in the face until she falls to the ground is completely unsettling to see. It’s definitely not funny and feels extremely uncomfortable. Oscar later blames his actions on alcohol, but nothing can erase that image from my memory.
General character development seems to be lacking in “Colossal,” which proves to be its biggest downfall. We don’t ever see the buildup of Gloria’s vices, only the consequences of her actions, which forces the audience to assume her behavior is a pattern without ever actually seeing the pattern. Because of this, it’s also hard to distinguish when Gloria is drunk or sober (both performances seem about the same amount of spastic). Although, despite its shortcomings and critiques, “Colossal” is a nice indie alternative to the studio “monster movie” and could benefit those who want to escape reality for a couple of hours.
“Colossal” is rated R for language. 110 minutes. Opening at ArcLight Hollywood and The Landmark this Friday, 4/7.