Colossal (2016)

Colossal is a movie that is very easy to spoil, so I’m going to be careful for a little while here, and it’s going to be tricky because most of the things I want to talk about fall squarely into that territory. So first, a brief plot summation.

Anne Hathaway gets drunk a lot, so her boyfriend kicks her out of New York City, and she has to move back to her parents’ home (they’re dead already and the house was just left empty I guess?) and figure out how to be a person again, or else get a job at a bar and continue her life-destroying alcoholism. Meanwhile, a giant monster is stomping around Seoul, destroying infrastructure and killing people. These facts are completely unrelated, OR ARE THEY?

I nearly and mostly liked it, despite my complaints below the cut, for which this is your warning that spoilers are forthcoming. I think the more I think about it, the more the scales will tip from the “nearly” side to the “mostly” side.

Spoilers ahoy!

The very first thing that I find insupportable is that the movie posters and imdb description consider this a comedy. It so so isn’t. It is occasionally funny, in a way a lot of movies that are not of the comedy genre are, but it is zero percent a comedy. The further along it goes (and it honestly didn’t take very long at all), the less retroactively funny even previous scenes become.

But that aside, mostly what I feel like is that this is a movie that wanted to be too many things, and trying to be each one caused the alternative read to miss the mark, in an orgy of mutual destruction. …which, okay, is sort of a combined third reading on the movie, but no, it doesn’t fly that way either.

Because it’s nearly a movie about the ways that self-destructive behavior are inevitably externally destructive as well, but right as that point is solidifying into the act two redemptive character arc, it segues into a movie about abusive relationships, in a way that unfairly lets Anne Hathaway off the hook for what she has already done. Yet, the abusive relationships movie is undercut by a failure to fully acknowledge that her original relationship was every bit as malfunctioning as the one the movie thrust her into. In the end, I was entertained but disappointed, because a perfectly fine movie could have been an instant classic of required viewing, if only it had aimed in either specific direction all along.

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