Directed by Nacho Vigalondo. Starring Anne Hathaway, Jason Sudeikis, Dan Stevens, Austin Stowell, Tim Blake Nelson.
This is one of those movies that is unwilling (or merely unable) to assign itself a genre. Rarely have I seen a film so reluctant to decide on what it is or what it wishes to say. We start out with some unsure comedy, before the notion of a character-driven drama is introduced. Romance, or at least the suggestion of it, enters the frame briefly, while generous helpings of sci-fi and horror also feature. By the end, one is left wondering why there wasn’t a bit of intergalactic space opera thrown in for good measure.
Anne Hathaway’s Gloria begins this film as an irresponsible party girl, before donning the mantle of alcoholic when her boyfriend insists that she leave their shared apartment in New York. She returns to the sleepy Midwestern town from whence she came, and is offered a job in childhood friend Oscar’s (Jason Sudeikis) bar. Naturally enough, bar work takes its toll on her recovery process, and she soon falls into a routine of drinking until sunrise after every shift with Oscar and his friends. Meanwhile, a Godzilla-esque monster begins to make periodic appearances in the city of Seoul, repeatedly arriving at the same place and leaving death and destruction in its wake (but, oddly enough, not inspiring any apparent evacuation of the area whatsoever). A supernatural link between the two storylines is revealed, and the film’s central plotline ensues.
The problem with Colossal’s multi-genre approach is that it struggles to inhabit any one genre particularly well. When it’s a comedy, its jokes fail to amuse. The supernatural elements are dealt with too briefly to make for effective sci-fi. Granted, Anne Hathaway does save this film to a certain extent; her Gloria is layered and relatable, and we are never quite sure how much to let ourselves like her. Sudeikis does his best, but ultimately fails to make anything decent of Oscar, the believability of whose character is readily sacrificed for the outlandish purposes of the script. Engaging dialogue and cleverly drawn and delivered supporting roles threaten to break the mould at certain stages, but this is ultimately a movie that collapses under the weight of its own ridiculousness.