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The Un-Credible Shrinking Man

Alexander Payne’s new film, Downsizing, is a humorless comedy about people who decide to make it big by becoming small – about five inches, more or less. Some Norwegians have invented a process by which people can be shrunk with no other side effects than the need for a whole new wardrobe. The conceit is that you can tell yourself you’re saving the planet by consuming less.

After all, the doll maker who tailors your new suits uses a lot less fabric. A nice illustration of the premise comes when a scientist reveals the first-ever miniaturized man to an audience agog, then displays a half-full trash bag, proudly proclaimed as the waste that the little fella and his three-dozen shrunken comrades have accumulated over four presumably full-sized years.

But the real reason most people go tiny is to become rich. It’s all about scale: your $100,000 estate is suddenly worth millions, because small stuff costs less than big stuff – and, as the saying goes, it’s all small stuff!

Our sad-sack hero is Paul Safranek (Matt Damon). He and the Mrs. (Kristen Wiig) decide to solve their financial problems by downsizing and moving to Lesiureland, a tiny city under a bubble in which all the insects have been killed. (Hey! I thought we were saving the planet.) Unfortunately for Paul, his wife panics, and he ends up in Leisureland mate-less, followed by a divorce that forces him out of the mansion they’d bought and into a high-rise condo, right below a neighbor (played by Christoph Waltz) who throws loud parties, at one of which Paul passes out, and awakens on the neighbor’s floor, just as a crew of tiny, poor (minority) women comes in to clean up.

One of these is a Vietnamese immigrant, Ngoc Lan Tran (Hong Chau), who takes over Paul’s life, cajoling him to help her help the poor in an area outside the bubble where she and others of the indigent small are living. One man’s utopia turns out to be another woman’s hell.

The question becomes: What’s actually being downsized here?

Click here to read the rest of Mr. Miner’s review at Tne Catholic Thing . . .


Vatican: “Amoris Laetitia” Is Magisterial

Host Raymond Arroyo, FRI President Robert Royal, and The Catholic Thing contributor and canon lawyer Fr. Gerald E. Murray discuss the ever-widening controversy of the pope’s apostolic exhortation.

FRI’s Brad Miner and George Marlin: Sons of St. Patrick

Robert Royal and Fr. Gerald Murray on EWTN

Camus Between God and Nothing

Robert Royal reflects on the enduring significance of Albert Camus one hundred years after his birth.

I happened to be in Paris several years ago on the evening they were giving out the Césars, the French equivalent of the Oscars. Early the next morning, I turned on the television to see who had won. The first news story was not about film stars, but the posthumous publication of Albert Camus’s novel about the French settling of Algeria, The First Man. The French love to be in love with their intellectuals, but that news story, that early, on that morning, about a man already dead more than thirty years, says something about Camus.

Click here to read the rest at First Things.

Pope Francis: misunderstood

Robert Royal discusses the way the pope is taken him to be saying one thing when he has not been saying that sort of thing at all.

Robert Royal discusses Pope Francis on EWTN

The Interview begins at 34:27 . . . But do watch Cardinal Burke.

Robert Royal on Pope Francis: Person of the Year

Arroyo and Royal on Rio