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A Charming, Low-Key Film
on August 16, 2009
Gigantic is another independent romantic-comedy starring Zooey Deschanel. Like other films of this sort that she's starred in, it's not your typical, everything-turns-out-fine, big box-office take romantic-comedy. Instead, it's a subtle, quirky film with whimsical characters that is hardly the first of it's kind, but is still a unique little movie.
Paul Dano (also the executive producer) is a mopey, 28-year-old mattress salesmen named Brian who's in the process of adopting a Chinese baby. One day, Al Lolly (John Goodman), a successful, loud-mouthed man with back problems comes in and buys a mattress. His daughter Happy (Deschanel) comes in to take care of the financial aspects and ends up falling asleep on one of the bed's.
Ed Asner co-stars as Brian's elderly father, while Zach Galifianakis (a recent scene-stealer in The Hangover) plays a mysterious, mute homeless man.
What is instantly striking is the unique characters and the subtle things that make them unique. One character introduces himself with "'sup dude? Not much," everytime he enters a room. There's the bizarre, mute homeless man of course. And how many beautiful, eccentric girls randomly fall asleep in a mattress warehouse? So, yes the character's are unique...But they don't come off as being written in such a way. My impression of the character's was not one of a writer saying "look at my unique characters!" They seem normal, real, just not without their eccentricities.
The acting really brings that quality out. Dano has played every sort of character and his quiet, disconnected Brian is another winning performance. Goodman has played a loud-mouthed, sympathetic character before and few actors are better at it. Finally, although not expanding her acting range much, Deschanel is a charmer...She once again plays a character that's reserved and complicated, but you can see how someone could instantly fall for her.
Gigantic did not blow me away, but it's got many admirable qualities. I enjoyed it's subtle, deadpan humor. It doesn't seem to reach for laughs, but will graciously accept them if the timing is right. Co-writer/director Matt Aselton marks his directorial debut here and he doesn't seem to have totally hit his creative stride yet. There are scenes in Gigantic that feel out-of-place, like Aselton didn't focus on a completely linear story arc. Also, I'm not sure about the necessity of the Galifianakis character.
Gigantic is an ironic title for a film of this scope. It's a simple film about complicated people that simplifies their "gigantic" complications in their otherwise typical, fruitless lives. It's low-key and light-on-it's-feet and although I enjoyed it, I couldn't help but think that it had more potential than it fulfilled. It's not perfect, but a strong debut by a filmmaker who could make something very special in the future.