ROCHE: Anne Hathaway is wonderful. Not that she’s ever not. But minus the distraction of period garb or catsuits, her real self shines through. She feels like a modern woman I could know in real life. I have to say, the recent interview on WTF really updated my opinion on her as a totally normal and interesting person.
BRENNA: Agreed, though you obviously never saw The Princess Diaries (and the second one is highly underrated; if you like Chris Pine, I will recommend it to you) and therefore missed out on the reason some of us never actually hated or underestimated Hathaway.
ROCHE: Well, you nailed that one - never saw the Diaries.
BRENNA: And I thought you loved Rachel Getting Married.
ROCHE: I liked it, yes. But I also meant that her character, Gloria, seems like a real person. Not just the way she slouches into her first scene, but in many other choices. I liked her pea green hooded coat. It’s a real winter coat a real person would wear, and also a nice drab character detail. Hathaway's Gloria wants to hide herself.
BRENNA: Well, I wouldn't say "hide," but she's certainly not looking to stand out. She's refreshingly unapologetic about being messy, and I liked that the movie was not a story about how this Woman Who Is A Mess moves back to Her Hometown after Mr. Perfect Boyfriend dumps her, only to meet Nice Guy and open a Coffee Shop and become Actualized (but not TM). She's just a chick, who is half-heartedly trying to find herself and a place to live, preferably rent-free.
Sidenote: I found more than one review that called Gloria a "train wreck" or similar crappy sort of name... but while she's not the Got It All Together character, she's also not that shitty. Maybe it's simply that she's shitty compared to the type of lady lead you would typically see in the romantic dramedy that this initially pretends to be.
Anyway. She does meet a Nice Guy, Oscar, played by the seemingly nice Jason Sudekis.
ROCHE: Despite his many roles outside of SNL, when I see Jason Sudiekis I will always think of him in his recurring “Two A-holes” sketch: “Perp, babe? Babe, perp?” He deserves a better rep. He’s great here, in what could be a thankless part. At first Sudeikis seems like the just-a-good-dude romantic comedy suitor. Yet his role gradually takes on a darker aspect until he’s the villain.
BRENNA: A monster, really.
ROCHE: Oh, this is definitely a monster movie. Bringing this up so late is not sloppy writing. The characters are so interesting that we never feel as if we’re being cheated out of monster action when people are talking.
BRENNA: The opening sequence is actually a sent-up monster movie moment, with a little Asian (later we learn she's specifically Korean, but to this dumb American she could definitely have been Japanese a la Godzilla) girl screaming and pointing when she sees a reptilian monster materialize.
ROCHE: Colossal doesn’t need a huge budget to deliver the goods. The monster scenes are nowhere near as elaborate as the recent Godzilla or Kong: Skull Island, yet they have more personality.
Specifically, Anne Hathaway’s personality. You’re not going to see this movie so I’ll spoil it:
BRENNA: SPOILER ALERT!
ROCHE: Hathaway’s Gloria is telepathically connected to a giant kaiju stomping all over Seoul, South Korea. Gloria walks through a playground, and over in Seoul, the kaiju wreaks havoc. And then later, Oscar finds he can similarly appear overseas.
BRENNA: She's a good monster. He's a bad robot. Together they terrorise (the) Seoul.
ROCHE: Why wasn’t that on the poster?
BRENNA: Seriously. Our marketing talents are being wasted.
ROCHE: What else? Dan Stevens as Tim, the movie’s Bill Pullman, is good but gives much of the stuffy concern we’d expect from a former Downton Abbey cast member. Colossal isn’t necessarily representative of the awesome, mold-breaking work Stevens has done since his days at the Abbey, but that's for another review. He works for what the movie needs.
BRENNA: Eye candy.
ROCHE: Tim Blake Nelson plays a go-nowhere small town burnout and conspiracy theorist. There’s a 9/11 truther in all of our lives, and Nelson is that guy here. He leaves abruptly but is always welcome.
BRENNA: I felt like he was a stock character. Familiar and then when he'd served his purpose, edited out.
ROCHE: There’s also Joel.
BRENNA: What's the point of Joel? Other than being a red herring.
ROCHE: I’ll make my pitch for why he’s essential:
- Without Joel, we assume that Gloria and Oscar will get together
- And that Oscar is a good guy rather than a psycho bully. (He's mean to Gloria, but at first that could be taken as spurned petulance. When Oscar pushes Joel around, we see he's an all-purpose aggressor.)
- Joel’s dopey good nature is a contrast to the neuroticism of Hathaway’s situation and Sudiekis’ increasing madness. He’s possibly the only truly nice person in the movie.
BRENNA: He also looks like he should be in a Mentos commercial at the end, when he's watching the Seoul footage. #freshmaker
ROCHE: I feel like Joel unironically enjoys Mentos.
BRENNA: I didn't know that was possible, unless you were in a coma/unborn during the '90s.
ROCHE: Colossal is a rare pleasure, the almost completely organic genre movie. It’s as if writer/director Nacho Vigalondo simply started writing and the monster elements just became part of it.
BRENNA: Is it even a genre movie? I think what makes it so slyly bonkers is that it's not really in an established genre. It's a real mixtape, borrowing elements from recognized genres and inverting them in really effective ways. Maybe it's a commentary on how women are expected to be attentive and tidy and not monstrous. Maybe it's a dig at white guys feeling entitled to getting what they want and getting away with being dicks. Maybe it's simply thumbing its nose at the conventions of expectations - for people, for plots, et al.
Two thumbs up. Despite what Roche said earlier, I believe you WILL see this movie, and you'll dig it.