Manuel Betancourt

Gigantic, or How THIS is what’s wrong with indies these days

April 18, 2009 · in Uncategorized

Written by: Matt Aselton & Adam Nagata
Directed by: Matt Aselton
Starring: Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman & Ed Asner.

It had been a while since a film infuriated me and frustrated me more than Gigantic did. In a way, the film takes most of the things we tend to love (or at least appreciate watching) in “indie” films (quirky characters, dysfunctional families, introspective leads) and uses them in such bizarrely contrived ways that you end up wondering why someone (Aselton, I presume) would think all of the elements belonged in one single film. Take for example Ed Asner’s character: he is Paul Dano’s father (I won’t even bother with names, cause they alone made me roll my eyes every time; “I’m Happy, I mean, my name is Harriet, but everyone calls me Happy”, seriously?) and every scene he’s in becomes a “Old People Are Crazy” skit, having him ask for bourbon at an office (“Dad they don’t do that anymore”), wonder why Paul doesn’t have a porter in his apt (“He lives in squalor!” he exclaims) and be utterly overwhelmed by a cellphone. In the same way characters like Deschanel’s “Happy,” Goodman’s “Al Lolly” and Dano’s “Brian Weathersby” (see what I mean?) become mere caricatures of themselves by pushing their endearing quirks to awful extremes: Happy comes off as a ‘happy drunk,’ Al’s racism and homophobia try to come off as tongue in cheek but that somehow rings hollow while Brian’s big reveal at the end of the film seems like a cinematic cop out for character development since it doesn’t feel earned or deserved.
There are good moments in the film (the pool scene between Deschanel and Dano is starkly cute) but these characters, their lives and their dialogue inspired little other than frustration so that when we get to the end of the film and Brian’s mom and Happy share a balcony scene and actually utter the words “I think I fucked things up”/”Nothing in this world is fucked up” (or something as inane like that) I wanted to mirror a character in the film and punch these people in the face. Thank god I had Ms Deschanel’s wardrobe to stare at (and sometimes puzzle over) otherwise I think I might have walked out. C –