From the Editor

Movie Review Archive

Thank you for checking out my movie review archive. I'm in the process of transitioning to something else, so I will no longer post new reviews to this blog. In the meantime, I will keep these reviews archived; these are from the fall of 2008 to April 2011. Please watch this blog for more info and keep in touch (you can still find me on Facebook and Twitter). Here's to more great movies!

Wes Singleton

North Texas Film Critics Association

Monday, April 13, 2009

Gigantic - C+

Rated R for language, some sexual content and violence, 98 minutes

"Gigantic": interesting, peculiar but unfocused story

“Gigantic” is a peculiar, nuanced romantic comedy with great characters that’s well-acted by a talented cast. The problem lies with an unfocused script that veers off in too many directions, with some plot details downright baffling. First-time feature director and writer Matt Asleton, a commercial director who makes his feature film directorial debut with “Gigantic” tells a compelling but unappealing story about two weird people who fall in love amidst a backdrop of unusual circumstances.

Mattress salesman Brian Weathersby (Paul Dano) finds his plan to adopt a Chinese baby augmented by the arrival of a young woman, Happy (Zooey Deschanel), who comes into his workplaces, falls asleep on one of the beds, and starts to affect his life upon waking up. The only thing is, both Brian and Happy have some clear issues.

Brian is the youngest of three brothers and came along late in life to his parents (Ed Asner and Jane Alexander), now approaching 80. He lacks confidence in himself and is often perceived as a weakling by his older, successful brothers. Happy comes from a wealthy, eccentric and dysfunctional family led by her loudmouth, intimidating father (John Goodman) with back and health problems. She lacks direction, both personally and professionally and seems drifting in many directions. It’ll be a miracle if these two peculiar people can get together and stay together.

“Gigantic” is about the gigantic issues we face in life, the ways in which we deal with them and how love can transcend our peculiarities. The film wears it’s quirkiness on its sleeve, though it has some dark, controversial moments that are jarring and threaten to throw the film off course. Brian grapples with his struggles in a very human way as he battles a homeless man (comedian Zach Galifianakis, uncredited) for his life who seemingly comes out of nowhere to beat the heck out of him. Director Aselton blurs the lines of reality here – the bruises and beatings look real – but are they really just a metaphor for the pain that Brian deals with daily?

Though Aselton has trouble getting a handle on these ideas, fortunately he has a talented cast that ably carries the film well. Dano (of “Little Miss Sunshine”) is a superb actor, and he carries “Gigantic” well, giving a nuanced, subtle performance of a young man struggling to find his identity, while the always-lovely, charming Deschanel can warm up any scene she’s in with her deadpan delivery; the chemistry she shares with Dano is the film’s highlight. (“Do you want to have sex in the back of my Dad’s car?,” she asks him. “OK” he responds wryly.) And the film’s warm climax is a fitting bookend that nicely balance out the film’s darker scenes.

Asner does a fine gruff, lovable father, Alexander is a radiant mother and Goodman chomps on scenery, though it’s fun to watch him get in and out of his car with the special contraption they have set up to slide him in and out. Dano and all the cast are much better than Aselton's peculiar, unfocused story; you'll have as much trouble as he did in getting a handle on it all.