Colossal (R) ★★★½

Anne Hathaway stars in Colossal
Image credit: NEON

You’ve probably never seen a movie quite like this.

I adored Colossal. It’s my favorite film of 2017 so far. I want to campaign for it at every theater across the country. I want to shake people standing in line to buy tickets for [INSERT LATEST BIG-BUDGET SEQUEL HERE] and shout, “No! Don’t give those guys your hard-earned money! Go see this unbelievable, uncategorizable indie instead—you can thank me later!”

Coming to us from new studio NEON and Spanish writer/director Nacho Vigalondo is the story of Gloria (Anne Hathaway), an aimless alcoholic mess whose boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) finally gets fed up with her hard-partying ways and lack of ambition and kicks her out of his Manhattan apartment. So Gloria heads home and reconnects with childhood friend Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), who gives her a job at his bar.

As Gloria tries to get her life together and hold down her new waitressing gig, an otherworldly terror begins to wreak havoc halfway around the world in Seoul. A gigantic monster is trampling citizens and knocking over skyscrapers, and with each new attack, Gloria starts realizing she may somehow be connected to the beast’s actions.

I’ll leave the rest of the monster-centric plot as a surprise, except to say that if there’s a reason I didn’t give this film a full four stars, it’s because I thought that its highly creative concept could’ve been better executed with just a few simple tweaks to the Seoul-based action. Having said that, I would highly encourage you to not seek out Colossal’s trailer—this is a film that I think most people will be taken with no matter what, but you’ll likely enjoy it even more if you go into it relatively blind.

In addition to the genre-defying story, I loved Sudeikis and Hathaway’s performances. While Sudeikis’s comedic talents don’t go to waste, this role gives him a chance to prove he’s more than just the funny guy. He’s done well in straight-man roles before, such as when he played Jesse Owens’ coach Larry Snyder in 2016’s underappreciated Race. But in Colossal he gets to show a quite eye-opening range, and it’s actually the goofy persona he’s built for himself since his SNL days that allows him to surprise audiences as much as he surprises his longtime friend Gloria.

As for Gloria, her character has shades of the messed-up sister Kym in 2008’s Rachel Getting Married, a role which earned Hathaway an Oscar nomination. But more than that, Gloria reminded me that during the course of her career I have been guilty of judging Hathaway in the same way that Oscar and Tim judge Gloria—overlooking her strengths and wishing she’d be something she’s not. To be sure, Gloria has a lot of problems (which Vigalondo mercifully does not try to “fix” over the course of the film). In fact, every time I thought I knew where Colossal was headed, it surprised me and took a different turn. Similarly, I think many other women will be surprised by how much this monster movie/dramedy hits home when they witness how others try to own or control or influence Gloria. If anything, Colossal makes a point of demonstrating that sometimes the person we really need to be worried about isn’t the one who appears to be falling apart.


The Bottom-Line? If you’re in the mood for an offbeat and truly original film that you’ll still be thinking about days later, Colossal is it.

* Colossal is expanding across the country in the coming weeks. See when it hits a theater near you here.


Cast: Anne Hathaway (Gloria), Jason Sudeikis (Oscar), Dan Stevens  (Tim), Tim Blake Nelson (Garth), Austin Stowell (Joel)

Credits: Directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo

Studio: NEON

Run Time: 1 hour 50 mins


Erika Olson © April 12, 2017