2009, R, 98 min. Directed by Matt Aselton. Starring Paul Dano, Zooey Deschanel, John Goodman, Ed Asner, Jane Alexander, Zach Galifianakis.
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., April 24, 2009
Is Zooey Deschanel the new Parker Posey? For that matter, have you ever seen them together in the same room? Weird, right? I know, me too. It's all just so … I don't know, like, um, quirky? It's exactly that kind of existential mumblety-peg from which this little movie about big quandaries – gigantic quandaries – hangs itself, but good. Dano (There Will Be Blood) nails that disconnect as Brian, the vague, hapless scion of Asner's ’shroom-gobbling dad. Brian spends his angst-filled days selling overpriced mattresses from a shabby chic NYC loft and working toward his childhood dream of adopting a Chinese baby. So far, so existential, right? One day, in barrels Goodman's casually bossy, stinking rich Al Lolly, who purchases the top of the top of the line in horizontal comfort and then sends over his daughter, Happy (Deschanel), to make delivery arrangements. Before you can say "mumble cute," the pair are flirting without making eye contact and then making full-on contact in the back of daddy Lolly's station wagon. Is it love? Does it want to be love? I don't know, and neither, apparently, does director Aselton, because Gigantic, which also features a subplot about a nonexistent homeless stalker (of Brian), goes to great lengths (and visual metaphors) to tackle the very real issue of social and interpersonal disconnect, which appears to be afflicting everyone under the age of 40. Goodman is the only part of Gigantic that feels fully formed or truly alive, and even his character is so out of it that it makes you pine for the comic immediacy of King Ralph. Faux Zen aphorisms abound in lieu of actual discourse. Two of my favorite: "You gotta swim if you wanna bang at home; that's reality," and, "Sometimes it takes mushrooms to find mushrooms," the latter beamed in via Asner – the former king of the Be Here Now, Dammit! style of acting. It's a wonder love can still exist as a concept in the kind of emotional vacuum that Gigantic portrays. It's just not all that interesting to watch two pretty young things go through the muddled rituals of the pas de duh when I can, you know, do it just as poorly myself. (See "Big Time," April 24, for an interview with the director.)