Remember when you were a kid, playing in the sandbox of your own imagination. Regardless if it was Barbie, G.I. Joe, Transformers or Godzilla toys, the end result was the same: I’m ABSORBED. This is my existence, my reality. Now, let’s get drunk and stomp on as many Koreans in Seoul as we possibly can.
Or was that just me?
Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is a colossal mess. After another all-night bender, her boyfriend bounces her from their apartment, forcing Gloria to head back to her family home in a forgotten city to get her life back together. Needing work, an old friend happens by in the form of Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). He’s a sad sack in this dead end town – manning his late father’s bar – and he still holds an eye for Gloria, if she could ever stay sober long enough to notice.
Awaking after a night of hunting her proverbial wagon, Gloria learns of a kaiju attack in Seoul, South Korea. Upon further research (i.e., bottle suckling), the realization sets in that she is the actual puppet master of this ruinous monster halfway across the globe. Can she stop it? Does she even want to? And is she the only person on the planet with this power?
In director Nacho Vigalondo’s Colossal, the insane becomes rational as one woman with a penchant for debauchery ascertains that she alone is shepherding mass-destruction upon the innocent bystanders in Seoul. The character design of Gloria’s kaiju pays respectful homage to the numerous Godzilla films over the years, while Vigalondo fine-tunes a comedic undertone that affords Colossal the ability to color outside the lines, tossing all logic to the wind. As bonkers as this concept sounds, it works much in the same way abstract art paints a vivid picture. It just does.
Much of the film’s success can be directly attributed to Anne Hathaway’s wonderfully melancholia approach to absolute madness. It’s rare to see such confident ownership of a blatantly flawed character culminate into someone so relatable, often detestable and endearing in the same moment. Gloria is self-aware of her inabilities to adult, and she is mostly fine with that…until Koreans end up as kibobs. But when she constantly surrounds herself with fellow drunken idiots, will she ever find the nerve to rise up and take charge of this monstrosity? The wildcard is Jason Sudeikis, as he takes advantage of the opportunity to play off his standard persona, pushing Oscar into riskier territory for the actor. It’s refreshing to see these two play off each other as the story amplifies the stakes during the final act.
The less said about Colossal the better, as several revelations have thus far remained unspoiled through the marketing. Contrary to the appearance of a 60-story kaiju destroying a major city, the film truly boils down to a story about a lost woman and a lifetime of bad choices. It’s also wonderfully eclectic and surprising, with just enough humor and absurd weirdness thrown in to make it intriguing.
In short, Colossal is Being John Malkovich for the Toho generation.
Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens
Written by Nacho Vigalondo
Directed by Nacho Vigalondo