Rated 2.0

Director Alexander Payne’s well-earned reputation for sharp satire and keen observation takes a bad beating with Downsizing, a thoroughly disjointed and misguided collaboration with longtime writing partner Jim Taylor.  Matt Damon stars as Paul Safranek (an early sign of trouble: mispronouncing the protagonist’s name becomes a recurring joke), a Nebraska working stiff who dreams of a more luxurious life.  Paul’s prayers are answered when Norwegian scientists develop technology that shrinks humans to five inches in height.  Originally developed to minimize environmental impact and save the planet, miniaturization grows into a trendy lifestyle choice, and Paul and his wife (Kristen Wiig) decide to take the plunge.  He undergoes the invasive process, but she backs out at the last minute, leaving Paul stranded in the small world and leaving the audience stranded one-third of the way through a film that has effectively concluded.  In no time, Downsizing descends into tonal and thematic chaos.