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George At 

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I'm a huge fan of Alexander Payne's work. He's brought us retirement comedy/drama with "About Schmidt", wine infused dramedy with "Sideways" and a masterwork on grief in "The Descendants".

His biggest budget film is his largest disappointment, 2017's DOWNSIZING.

It starts off well. Matt Damon is Paul, married to Audrey (Kristen Wiig) and stuck in a routine job and a routine life.

When scientists develop the perfect technology to shrink humans down to about 5" tall, massive new communities are built where your $50K becomes millions and you can live like a king. A very small king, but a royal nonetheless.

Damon jumps in and the film is brilliant to look at, with perfectly coiffed miniature neighborhoods and every mini luxury you can imagine.

But once inside, Paul soon finds himself on a new path, downsizing once again into an apartment complex with the craziest, wildest European neighbor upstairs, Dusan.

Christoph Waltz (Inglorious Basterds, Django Unchained) is the best thing in the movie as Dusan. He's decided life is one big party and it begins to rub off on Paul.

But the film takes a turn halfway through, an unsuccessful one toward a have and have not story, mixed with a heavy handed save-the-planet message that slows everything to a crawl.

You cant blame the cast. Hong Chau (Inherent Vice) is fantastic as Vietnamese dissident who's found herself miniaturized down to a maid. She is fantastic, hilarious and heartfelt. She delivers every line flawlessly.

Udo Kier is normally a manic presence on film, but he shows real wit here as Dusan's sidekick. Jason Sudeikis (We're the Millers, Horrible Bosses) is a lot of fun as well.

But the film burns out its promising start, slowing down and getting dumber as it wraps itself in politically correct messaging that would have been superb in smaller doses.

Apparently we masses have to beat over the head. It's too bad.

Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor still provide terrific dialogue to consider. Payne seems overwhelmed with the budget and special effects. The combination has somehow also shrunk his normally superhuman ability to tell a powerful, personal story.

Damon is fine if predictable as Paul. He feels shackled by the flip flops of the narrative and the small personality of Paul, who never quite has the moment of awareness you are hoping he'll experience.

The film bombed at the box office as word of mouth killed it out of the gate. In this case, popular opinion was full size and on target.

I'll look forward to whatever film Payne decides to make next and give this effort a tiny little C.

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