Where I Watched It: Amazon

English Audio Description?: Yes

I missed this one when it came out. It’s a perfect example of a good on paper Oscar contender that ends up not really materializing into anything. For a while, as the campaign stripped away, it looked like hong Chou might get a supporting nomination, but that never panned out. Years later, and I’m finally watching Alexander Payne’s odd social commentary…with audio description! And, human audio description on Amazon! There are miracles. They do happen.

Matt Damon leads an ensemble cast in a quirky comedy about a future where we have figured out how to shrink people. you could call it an answer to our climate problem, I suppose. Or overpopulation.

The cast is charming, and Payne has an interesting concept. The film is oddly paced, because he took something that would make for a more interesting TV series, but tried to make a film. So, for a film about making things small, it is somewhat hilarious that this runs over two hours.

A concept like this would be a perfect TV show adaptation, as it can actually look at all the different facets this idea produces, from still needing large people to do certain things, to the commentary on requiring accessibility. This is where things really get interesting for me, because as a blind film critic, I’m all about accessibility, but this film has people shrinking themselves by choice, and expecting the world around them to accommodate them when they do things like dine in a normal sized person’s restaurant.

In an era of streaming, one wonders why Payne didn’t opt for a series deal with something like Netflix or Amazon, and instead muddled his high concept into a feature length, using the talented cast to sprint through some really complex ideas.

everyone in this film was great. Not just Hong Chou. They do what is expected of them, it’s just sometimes, due to needing to accomplish a lot in a relatively short period of time, this ensemble doesn’t always get a chance to breathe.

The audio description here mostly sets up well, though I do have to come back around to my continual comments on size relativity. I typically bring this up more in science fiction, when something that does not exist in the real world is of a size that is unknown. The best way, instead of calling something “huge” or “gigantic” is to compare it to something we are more familiar with, like “It stands as tall as a ten story building.” Or “Joe squares off against a beast the size of an elephant”.

Here, we have tiny people, and tiny objects, often existing in tiny communities. But, like, how small? Again, another perfect example that Payne could have explored more, but just doesn’t have the time to really get into things like, what happens when a tornado strikes? But, size relativity is probably the biggest feedback I’d give in terms of audio description. Actually describing these mini-mansions as they are isn’t the problem, it’s the other stuff.

It’s not a perfect film, but a talented cast, and an idea with a ton of potential keep it mostly feeling big enough. In no way is this Alexander Payne’s best work, nor is it Damon’s, but it’s also not worth ignoring either.

Final Grade: B-

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