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‘Downsizing’ Review: Alexander Payne and Matt Damon’s Big-Thinking Social Satire Offers Uneven Charms — Venice

‘Downsizing’ Review: Alexander Payne and Matt Damon’s Big-Thinking Social Satire Offers Uneven Charms — Venice

With a sneaky comic tone swerving between earnest compassion and snarky derision, a middle-aged protagonist chewed up by ennui, and a colorful array of character actors populating a kitsch-Americana setting, “Downsizing” has all the hallmarks of an Alexander Payne film. And yet, his latest work plays just as much like a blown-up, fun home image of Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy,” as it too uses the conventions of science fiction to mount a caustic social satire. And like Judge’s 2006 dystopian comedy (which feels less and far fetched each passing day, as the meme goes), “Downsizing” is rife with witty visual touches and inspired comic premises but never quite comes together as fully successful whole.

The premise itself is a gem. In some not-so-far-off future, forward-thinking Norwegians have discovered a way shrink objects down to 1/12th scale and have embarked on a global campaign to convince us that it’s time to “get small.

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