Colossal is a tough movie for me to review. Did I enjoy it? Yes. Was I able to follow its high concept story and keep up with what was happening? Yes. Do I understand what any of it means? Hell no. When Gloria (Anne Hathaway) has a mental breakdown complicated by a drinking problem, her boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), kicks her out of his New York apartment and she returns home to find herself mysteriously connected to a giant monster that’s terrorizing Seoul, South Korea.
That’s about it for the plot. Sure, there’s a discovery process and then Gloria is able to act upon what she’s discovered. This isn’t a spoiler, by the way. If you’ve seen the trailer, all of this is revealed, with as much explanation as you get in the entire feature film. On the surface, I suppose the giant monster is a metaphor for alcoholism and when Gloria acknowledges it, she is able to take control of it. That seems too obvious, though, and I think I’d be disappointed if that was the message of the movie.It’s the character of her childhood friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who makes me believe there’s more nuance to the story than what I just described. He starts out as a kind, generous friend for Gloria who offers her a part time job at his small town bar. In a way, he’s more complicated than she is. He suffers from a false belief that she left home to become a huge success in the big city and obviously resents the fact that he stayed behind. He turns downright sinister, though, and could be perceived as the real monster of the piece.
A climactic flashback memory reveals something for Gloria, part explanation for why she’s connected to the literal monster, part realization that Oscar has been a figurative monster all along. Perhaps when she encountered him again so many years later, their relationship opened old wounds and resurrected the terror in Seoul. (Why Seoul, by the way, other than because Kaiju normally come from Asian countries? Seoul = Soul?!?) This is a less straightforward explanation for the meaning of the film, and therefore one I have more trouble grasping completely.
I apparently found the movie’s intentions to be ambiguous. That’s a good thing, right? Good movies stimulate conversation and allow you to interpret them any way you want to. In the case of Colossal, though, I can’t decide how to interpret it. Normally, I feel confident in declaring what I think a movie means. Here, I can’t. Therefore, I have to evaluate it simply as entertainment and decide if there’s enough of that to recommend other people see it. I don’t think most people will like it. It’s too quirky, which will not appeal to the average movie going audience.The acting is fine, but I prefer the supporting characters, especially Joel (Austin Stowell) over the lead. Hathaway is good, but not particularly special. Stevens, who appears in just about everything these days, looking and sounding different each time, plays a particularly complex character. On the surface, he’s “a douche,” as Oscar says. However, his intentions are good. He doesn’t mean to purposely insult Oscar or his vocation, but he just doesn’t know how to express himself. And he’s not responsible for Gloria’s problems; he truly cares about her.
At least, that’s how I interpret it. Colossal gives you plenty of leeway for interpretation. At 110 minutes, it’s too long. On the other hand, it didn’t feel too long to me. It’s clever and, at a certain point, fun. But it gets dark and a little ugly after that point. I suppose you could say that it’s “hip,” an adjective that hasn’t been used to describe me in years, if ever. All this means that niche audiences will probably love it. I only liked it, and any recommendations I give will have to be cautious ones.