PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For Anne Hathaway, this is anything but a Colossal mistake.
For as satisfying as her 2012 Oscar win as Best Supporting Actress for her singing role in Les Miserables must have been, she has also suffered her unfair share of online antipathy and abuse of late – so pronounced that it was even dubbed “Hathahate.”
So perhaps her choice of the offbeat Colossal as a project to star in and executive produce was a declaration of a certain form of literal and figurative independence.
Either way, whatever its therapeutic value for her, Colossal is an outlandishly absurdist little creature feature.
In it, Hathaway stars as Gloria, a young woman much too fond of the drink, a character flaw that costs her a disgusted boy friend, played by Dan Stevens, a writing job, and a New York City apartment.
So she returns to her rural hometown and moves into the empty house that her parents left her and ends up with a job as a waitress in a bar owned and managed by a childhood friend played by Jason Sudeikis.
Meanwhile, as they say, a 300-foot-tall monster – perhaps a third cousin of Godzilla – has suddenly, shockingly, and mysteriously surfaced and is laying waste to downtown Seoul, South Korea.
Why bring that up? Because, unexplainably, there seems to be a connection between whatever Gloria is doing and what the monster does.
That is, severe catastrophic occurrences are somehow a result of Gloria’s mental meltdown and eccentric behavior.
Or, to put it another way, her problems now seem to be everybody’s problems, which makes her the monster.
Spanish writer-director Nacho Vigalondo (Open Windows, Timecrimes, Extraterrestrial) doesn’t nail every quirky flourish – and the conclusion is, perhaps inevitably, a baby-step or two shy of satisfying — but most of his bold departure from genre convention stimulates with its clever uniqueness.
What he has conjured is an adventurous specialty item that comes pretty close to completely defying genre categorization: we might call it a comedic monster-movie hybrid, but it’s cheesy enough to be a muenster movie.
And, offering the creature as a metaphor for Gloria’s psychic package of anger, confusion, and insecurity, the film delivers a truckload of imaginatively bizarre and truly unpredictable fun while walking the high wire that connects the genre.
Hathaway does wonders with her role, calibrating her character’s campaign to halt all the self-destructiveness by conveying shaky self-respect, alcoholic self-loathing, and intermittent rage while skillfully mixing submerged pathos with surface humor. And Sudeikis, playing it close to the vest and not tipping his hand, is valuable and effective in support.
Colossal is weird, sure. Bit it’s also surprising, unnerving, and remarkably resonant.
So we’ll destroy 2-1/2 stars out of 4. Colossal is not a triumph, but it’s a refreshingly different and audaciously surreal sci-fi farce.