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‘Colossal’ adeptly mashes up two distinct genres into one great film

As Summer Blockbuster Season expands earlier and earlier with major tentpole films now being released in April, it’s easy for little under-marketed gems like Colossal to slip under people’s radars.

It’s perhaps understandable why you may not have heard of this one. Colossal stars Anne Hathaway–a talented actress who has perhaps somehow become more famous for an entire subculture of people who proudly don’t like her for no good reason–and features the completely insane genre mashup of the indie drama about someone returning to their hometown and a Japanese Kaiju monster movie.

Writer/Director: Nacho Vigalondo
Starring: Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis
Distributor: Neon

I’m not kidding. It’s both those things.

And it’s both those things done very well individually, and in a way that meshes both of those things very well.

Hathaway plays a functioning alcoholic who, after becoming homeless when her boyfriend dumps her, returns to the suburban hometown she hasn’t visited in at least a decade. She takes a job working at the local bar owned by a childhood friend played by Jason Sudeikis, but soon discovers she’s got a connection to a giant Kaiju monster that’s suddenly and inexplicably terrorizing Seoul, South Korea. This is the sort of film where the less you know going in, probably the better.

Hathaway is terrific in this film, but Sudeikis’ performance cannot be understated. He’s an actor I’ve never really taken notice of until now; but here, he’s a real standout. In one scene in particular revolving around the central question of what is the most irresponsible thing his character can do inside of his own bar, Sudeikis brings the film to a halt with a dark, mischievous energy and unpredictability while single-handedly driving the narrative, building first suspense and eventually dread. It’s probably going to remain a standout among my favorite scenes of the year.

My only real quibble with the film is that the other characters in the film are underdeveloped. Hathaway’s ex is that kind of generic, bland, vaguely successful type who is at least supposed to be appealing on paper. And though the film sets up a lot of potential for Sudeikis’ character’s two friends (Tim Blake Nelson and Austin Stowell), that potential mostly goes untapped.
Spanish-writer-director Nacho Vigalondo is known for low-budget genre films I haven’t seen but, after seeing this film, I’m much more curious about his past work, including a film I’ve had recommended to me for a while, Timecrimes. But I’m perhaps even more curious about what Vigalondo takes on next.

I’ve often said that the best monster movies are the ones where the true monster turns out to be us, and Colossal falls into that category–underneath all its literal larger-than-life genre elements lies a compelling human story, one told in a refreshingly unique way. This is probably a film that’s not for everyone, but if you like weirder fare and unlikely genre mashups, this might hit your sweet spot.

Is it good?
Colossal is probably not for everyone, but if you like weirder fare and unlikely genre mashups, this might hit your sweet spot.
Hathaway and Sudeikis give great performances
Inventive central premise
The "most irresponsible thing I can do in this bar" scene
Underdeveloped supporting cast

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