#336: Gigantic

11 September 2011

I was excited to get my hands on a copy of this film by Matt Aselan which stars Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, Ed Asner, and John Goodman. I haven’t heard of this until I stumbled upon a synopsis of this film thru wikipedia.

The plot is simple and very interesting: A mattress salesman plans to adopt a chinese baby. Although he’s applied to get one several times, he never gets qualified. His plans to adopt is temporarily set aside once a quirky woman arrives in the mattress shop to pay for the bed her father chooses to buy. After paying, the woman takes a nap on the bed. Soon they begin a casual affair, although as you find me typing in the words ‘casual affair’ and perhaps several images of meet-cutes in the park stream in your mind, these scenes are quite few in the film. Not that I want that conventional Hollywood rom-com thing wherein the lovers go everywhere hoping to make us feel all giggly. There’s a few of that in this film. So few that I was hoping for a breakthrough.

Brian Weathersby is the mattress salesman, played by Paul Dano in a pokerfaced babyface fashion. His face is mostly in a bit of a smug accompanied by wonder in a low-key performance. He’s often being attacked by a homeless man played by Zach Galifianakis, one time using a pipe and the other shoots him during a hunting trip. Their last encounter is in a fist fight which ends up as Brian stabs the homeless man. The homeless man disappears, making us understand that everything is just a figment of Brian’s imagination but leaves him in a beaten up state.

Zooey Deschanel plays Harriet/Happy Lolly, the girl who finds herself comforted by the mattress she pays for for her father. She lives a privileged life with her father, and works with her sister who’s a host at a local show. Deschanel’s performance is as usual fresh and quirky but unpredictable.

The film also stars Jane Alexander and Ed Asner as Brian’s parents who both live upscale outside of the city. Mr. Weathersby is somewhat cool and very unconventional. John Goodman plays Al Lolly, Happy’s father who refuses to pay the extra delivery charges after purchasing the $14,000 mattress. Both wealthy parents appear to be very unusually supportive.

This movie is very.. very… boring in a sense that you would still want to watch it just to find out why things happen in the film. If I might add the part at the beginning wherein Brian’s friend, a gerbil scientist, experiments with mice swimming in a tank. According to a review I read by Stephen Holden from the NY Times, this is Aselton suggesting that this is his approach to the world, as a scientist examining a species under stress. Reading this made the film a whole lot sensible. In a way, Gigantic isn’t just a blunt comedy trying to make a point but showing us that generational misunderstanding isn’t just about a film with kids on a rebel against their parents.