★★★★1/2 out of ★★★★★
A drunken, stumbling Kaiju-as-avatar parable. Goofy, and bittersweet.
Somehow, genre films make great parallels for the perils of addiction. Colossal has a darkly wicked spin on that story, in the body of Anne Hathaway’s Gloria, a drunken party girl who gets kicked out of her urban loft by her boyfriend and finds her staggering home to small town Maine, where she crashes at her parent’s empty estate. Coincidental to her moving back… or perhaps directly incidentally, a giant Kaiju monster starts wrecking Seoul. It just appeared in a storm, and started crashing into buildings, heedless of the panicking citizens below.
It quickly dawns on Gloria that somehow there is a bizarre link between the big stompy monster wrecking Korea, and herself. Meanwhile, her childhood paramour, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis) is clearly hoping for a second chance with the girl who got away, and he happens to run the local watering hole in the old home town. He manages to prop Gloria up, providing her empty nest with second hand furniture, and gives her a bartending job at his bar, and attempts to get her back on her feet. Honestly, probably not the best job for an alcoholic to take at this moment. When Gloria confides in Oscar and his buddies that there is some metaphysical connection between her and the monster, they have some fun with it, as the she makes the monster dance around like a giant marionette, to the delight of their small troupe, and the millions of people watching at home on TV. However, things go bad when she drunkenly falls down, and her avatar similarly flops, and crushes untold amounts of Korean citizens.
Gloria eventually realizes the damage she’s creating… and there it is… the addiction metaphor. She tries to go on the straight and narrow, and make up for her destructive ways. Oscar, however, is sensing all of his dreams crashing as her life is self-correcting, and begins to interfere, passively at first, and then in a crazy twist, in a much more combative posture. The brilliance of this movie are the intersecting character arcs. Gloria’s ascendant attempts to better herself from depression and self loathing is tightly juxtaposed with Oscar’s descent from being a very decent guy into something monstrous; dangerous not only to Gloria, but to millions of other innocent bystanders.
I was totally enamored with this film. I loved the supporting characters, including the goofy sidekicks Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell. There is plenty of wry comedy to go with the tension of recovery and failure. The film weaves very personal stories of redemption, rehabilitation, jealousy, abuse, and virtue with a global catastrophe a half a world away. It is a wholly fresh take on what you can do with a Kaiju movie. The ending is both triumphant and bittersweet, and I honestly didn’t see the end coming. I realize that this does not qualify necessarily as a straight up horror movie, (it’s not very scary) but it takes a dramatic tale and shrouds it with a 300 foot tall stompy monster, and I just have to spread the good word. Check out Colossal! (stomp stomp stomp!)