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Gloria (Anne Hathaway) is an out-of-work girl who, after getting kicked out of her apartment by her boyfriend, is forced to leave her life in New York and move back to her hometown. When news reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, South Korea, Gloria gradually comes to the realization that she is somehow connected to this far-off phenomenon. As events begin to spin out of control, Gloria must determine why her seemingly insignificant existence has such a colossal effect on the fate of the world.
"Colossal" is an original and fun, but highly flawed movie.
Anne Hathaway has had a big career, with major moments and some huge film successes, but nothing in her career could rightly be called colossal. That is, until 2017. The sci-fi/fantasy action comedy "Colossal" (R, 1:50) qualifies in name, if not in reality. Hathaway's first feature film was the 2001 Disney hit "The Princess Diaries", which led to a couple more princess movies ("The Princess Diaries: Royal Engagement" and "Ella Enchanted"). Hathaway soon transitioned to adult roles in movies like "Havoc", "Brokeback Mountain" and "Love & Other Drugs". Her talent made her an Academy darling, as she was nominated for an Oscar for 2008's "Rachel Getting Married", she co-hosted the 2011 Academy Awards (with James Franco) and then she won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar for her acting and singing in 2012's "Les Misérables". Since then, she reprised her role as the voice of Jewel in "Rio 2", again played The White Queen in "Alice Through the Looking Glass" and starred in "Interstellar", "The Intern" and "Colossal".
Hathaway plays Gloria, a confirmed party girl who can't hold a job and shows all the signs of being an alcoholic. She lives with her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens, in one of his half-dozen or so 2017 films), who tires of her irresponsible ways and kicks her out. She has no choice but to move back to her small (unspecified) hometown and start living in her childhood home which is (for unspecified reasons) unfurnished and vacant. While hauling a newly purchased air mattress back to her parents' house, she runs into Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a childhood friend who now runs his late father's minimally successful bar. Gloria starts hanging out with Oscar and his after-hours drinking buddies, Garth (Tim Blake Nelson) and Joel (Austin Stowell). Oscar soon offers Gloria a job as a waitress and starts bringing her some major creature comforts (furniture, a big-screen TV, etc.), obviously trying to get her interested in him romantically, even though she's still in contact with Tim and seems to have eyes for the handsome Joel.
But it's only when a colossal, vaguely human-looking monster suddenly appears and wreaks Godzilla-style havoc on Seoul, South Korea that Gloria's life REALLY gets complicated. Watching news footage, she sees that this monster seems to have her scalp-scratching nervous tic. Then, she notices that this creature half-way around the world, makes the same gestures and movements that she makes when she happens to be in the playground area of a local park – and at exactly 8:05 a.m. local time (a time and place with which she only has a tenuous connection with roots in her childhood). After another all-night drinking session, Gloria brings Oscar, Joel and Garth to the playground, asks them to stream live news from Seoul and demonstrates her connection to the monster. Then, as she and her friends try to figure out what's really going on and what it means (and as she's racked with guilt over the destruction and loss of life in Seoul) another creature appears, one that seems to have issues with Gloria's monster.
"Colossal" is an original and fun, but highly flawed movie. The premise that Spanish writer-director (and past Oscar nominee) Nacho Vigalondo gives us is gleefully fresh and loaded with potential. It even features subtle messages about addiction and toxic relationships. The problem is the details. Too much goes unexplained – and the reasons that are given for the story's strange and remarkable occurrences are thinly and illogically developed. It's enough to drive a reflective Movie Fan to distraction. And that's before we even discuss the unnecessarily off-putting developments regarding some of the characters. It's as if Vigalondo has set a fantastic table and then tried to do that trick of yanking the tablecloth out from under the dishes, only to break most of them. In other words, I loved the first half of this movie, hated much of the second half and only kind of liked the ending.
For me, all that adds up to a mild recommendation, based on the movie's creative premise, Hathaway's typically excellent work and the entertainment value of about half of the film. (Sudeikis' superficial performance in what is admittedly a tough role to play doesn't do Vigalondo any favors.) I can't even evaluate the movie with a bad pun based on its title, because it's neither a colossal success nor a colossal failure. There's a great movie somewhere in there trying to break out, but it's held back by its own unfortunate and avoidable shortcomings. My advice? Watch up to the point that Gloria motions for Oscar to leave the playground. Then stop. That moment feels like an ending (to an enjoyable movie). But considering everything between the opening credits and the closing credits, the most that I can give this underachiever is a "B".
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