Cross stitch pattern of Marge from The Simpsons. Thanks to A. J. Nitro for the sprite. You can read about how disappointed I was with Downsizing below or you could just download this pattern as a PDF here: Marge Pattern
Grid Size: 47W x 113H
Design Area: 3.21″ x 7.93″ (45 x 111 stitches)
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This has nothing to do with The Simpsons, but I recently watched Downsizing. I expected a silly movie about how zany it would be to be small in a big world, something like Honey I Shrunk the Kids but with less extreme shrinkage. I wanted to see people get mad at being treated like dolls and someone get picked up by a dog or something like that. What I got was a very unfocused story that felt like it was three very different movies. Matt Damon considering downsizing with his wife is entirely disconnected to how the story ends. I guess that’s fine in a story that’s mostly a character study, but the character we follow is the blandest person ever. You didn’t need an audience surrogate to receive exposition dialogue in this type of movie since the technology is new in universe. Matt Damon could have been a championship surfer who downsized to avoid his overbearing mother. He would have been someone at least! After his divorce, he cuts contact with absolutely everyone in his life, everyone. You don’t see him try to call his old friends or get in touch with his family. Tiny Neil Patrick Harris is in this and you expect them to bump into each other, but no. There’s a friendly guy who drives Matt home when he first arrives at Leisure Land, but never comes back.
I kept on waiting for them to give me a reason to care about Matt Damon’s character. He just went through the entire movie constantly reacting to things and never actually doing anything he wants other than the initial decision to get small and the final decision to not live underground. They skip over his grieving process after getting a divorce and the point where he decides to start dating again. He chooses to take drugs but only after they are offered to him and there aren’t any consequences anyway. I really wanted to see him slide into drug addiction to give him a solid low point that would make his struggle to find meaning in his life that much more touching. It would have given him a reason to want to join the underground commune as a way of making up for his past failings. The thing is that he never really has any failings. We’re never shown him on anything worse than a moderately bad day because he’s never given screen time to react with guilt or sadness too these early events that shape what the audience thinks of him.
One of the things that took me out of the experience is that no real effort was made to make ordinary things appear small. Yeah you would sometimes get glasses that were a little too big and you had the wedding rings and the rose that’s in all the marketing photos, but through most of the film it was easy to forget that they were tiny. Take a look at doll clothes. Even high end collectible dolls have visible stitching and thick seems. You just can’t reliably get fabric thin enough to lay perfectly in that scale. Given, it’s been five or six years since the first humans downsized so there could be tiny factories making tiny clothes, but the clothes produced are bound to be more expensive without overseas sweatshops and with the cost of developing and constructing equipment that size. I may be thinking too far into this, but you see a heck of a lot of tiny poor people and none of them are wearing doll clothes. No one is forced to use bright pink plastic barbie furniture or make half a hamster ball into a greenhouse. Everything just looks normal until you get to the end and see people walking through a forest of grass. And I don’t care what you say, five years is not long enough for any company to produce a perfectly functional tiny roller luggage for any price that Matt Damon’s character would be able to afford.
There are just so many missed opportunities here. They touch on a lot of cool ideas like discrimination against small people and black market resellers, but they never actually do anything with those ideas and end up telling a story that could have easily been told without the sci-fi elements. Matt Damon could have moved to the Philippines instead of downsizing and it would have made just as much impact on the story. A lot of things don’t add up either. I expected the yacht to capsize since it’s basically a Barbie Dream Boat in the middle of a lake and any passing fish or stiff breeze could knock it over, yet it’s treated like a normal sized vehicle. I really wanted there to be a normal sized guy who lived with the original colony as their keeper. He’d have a dog to keep away wild animals because that whole community could be wiped out by one particularly hungry wolverine or lynx. Matt has a tiny computer at his work, but any computer display that small would look super pixelated and useless. Why is there no crime when you have a clearly subjugated lower class and no obvious law enforcement? How is making anything for tiny people financially viable if only a small portion of the population can use it. If you can buy a whole set of diamond jewelry for $85, then you can definitely get by on $85 a month income. Are tiny people paid less for the same work? If so, then what incentive does someone without savings like a factory or service industry worker have to downsize? Are there families with one large parent making money and one small parent raising their tiny kids? Can you even shrink kids?
Downsizing isn’t a complete disaster though. I do like how the keepsake box is actually a truck trailer. It’s nice to see an Asian actress and a multiracial couple. I applaud the director’s choice to not include subtitles. It’s fun how Hong Chau casually murders her roommate and no one bats an eye. Christopher Waltz is fantastically expressive and the highlight of the whole movie. There are a lot of distinct and interesting locations. Despite it’s obvious misgivings, the story can be touching at times. I suppose if you’re looking for a romance disguising itself as a strangely lighthearted sci-fi distopia, then sure go watch it, but it you’re anyone else, don’t bother.