PLOT A dysfunctional woman suspects her problems have taken the form of a gigantic monster.
CAST Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens
RATED R (language, adult themes, mild violence)
PLAYING AT Roslyn Cinemas
BOTTOM LINE “Garden State” meets “Godzilla” in this highly original indie-kaiju comedy.
Gloria, the flawed heroine played by Anne Hathaway in Nacho Vigalondo’s “Colossal,” has a problem as big as the movie’s title. A grown woman who still behaves like a teenager, she arrives home after an all-night bender to find that her long-suffering boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), has packed her bags. There’s only one place for Gloria to go: the tiny hometown where all her issues began.
So far, so familiar. Gloria re-connects with an old acquaintance, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who’s had a crush on her since childhood. What happens next is unusual: A Godzilla-size monster, complete with claws and horns, stomps on Seoul, South Korea. It’s a 9/11 moment, if a rather bizarre one, but Gloria feels strangely responsible. In fact, she suspects that all her problems — the drinking, the selfishness, the wrecked relationships — have taken the form of a behemoth that is hurting innocent people.
“You ever notice,” says Oscar’s friend Garth (Tim Blake Nelson), “how it just keeps moving, destroying everything in its path?”
“Colossal” is a clever, highly original and very funny creation that combines two heretofore unrelated genres: the American indie film and the Japanese monster movie. Godzilla, Mothra and their foam-rubber cousins were often manifestations of man’s misdeeds, be it the atomic bomb or environmental destruction, but “Colossal” marks the first time that a lumbering kaiju has been born of one woman’s personal dysfunction. It’s a brilliant concept, executed by writer-director Vigalondo with a perfect balance of pop-culture irony and sincere storytelling.
“Colossal” moves seamlessly between traditional disaster flick (screaming crowds, breathless newscasts), absurd comedy (Gloria proves she can control the monster’s movements by doing an idiotic dance) and a Hitchcockian mystery that points back to a childhood trauma. The actors’ natural, almost casual performances ensure that “Colossal” never comes off as a mere novelty or an extended in-joke.
This is a tremendous feat of imagination from Vigalondo, a Spanish director who stocks his YouTube account with various spoof music videos and goofy shorts such as “Gremlins 3.” On the strength of “Colossal,” he might be able to make his next feature film out of just about anything.