Colossal: A refreshing wacky premise that is largely entertaining

It’s generally believed that all the good ideas are taken. But if Colossal is any indication, apparently not. It’s the sort of premise that would make aspiring writers hit their head against the wall for not thinking of it first. The wacky idea is this: A woman in New York realises that the mythical monster that’s terrorising South Korea is her spirit animal; that she’s responsible for its actions. It’s as gloriously simple, and writer-director Nacho Vigalando doesn’t concern himself with explaining how it’s practically possible. All he cares about is telling you an interesting story while milking each situation for humour. For instance, once Gloria (Anne Hathaway) and Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) realise that they are controlling the creatures that are unleashing havoc on the other side of the world, they alleviate their guilt by donating money to the South Korean cause. It’s that sort of a film. The joke, often, is their insensitivity.

Director: Nacho Vigalando
Cast: Jason Sudeikis, Anne Hathaway
Storyline: A woman discovers the catastrophic consequences of her drinking

Colossal is also one of those films that lends itself to manifold interpretations. You could say that the monsters are merely projections of the demons within Oscar and Gloria. While Oscar’s smug arrogance serves to mask his self-hatred, Gloria’s battle is with her alcoholism. These are the real monsters, and the story’s about what happens when two people with deep-rooted issues come in close proximity.

Alcohol is a running motif, and it’s a pity when such a film’s releasing in India, for it means plenty of blurred images. Gloria and Oscar almost always are drinking. When you first see Gloria, she’s hungover from a night of heavy drinking. When she meets Oscar for the first time, they end up drinking for a whole night. Almost every scene of note after their meeting has the booze flowing freely. It could be a bit of a stretch, but if you’re so inclined, you could even make the case that the whole story itself is an artificial reality constructed by two alcoholics to deal with the mundanity of everyday life, and as a means of escape from their issues. As I said, it’s that sort of a film.

The true issues are when the film, as light as a breeze till the final portions, decides to turn serious suddenly. Oscar gets an inexplicable transformation, and the movie becomes bereft of weirdness and humour, its twin life forces. The final scenes are a let-down too. But let that not make you forget that Colossal, for the most part, is a bit like Phoebe of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. It’s weird, and refreshingly so. There’s even a laugh-out-loud Phoebe moment when Oscar meets Gloria for the first time. He tells her that his father passed away, and when Gloria asks about his mother, he tells her she passed away way before him. Gloria emphathises only to be reminded by Oscar that she actually came for the funeral. I spat my drink in laughter. It’s the sort of everyday joke that makes Colossal so much fun for the most part.

This review was written for The New Indian Express. All copyrights belong to the organisation. Do link to this page if you’d like to share this review.

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