In November 2022, The Earth’s population has risen to over eight billion. Meanwhile, the economy seems to teeter on the brink of oblivion, the environment is spinning worse, and repressive world leaders continue to push the limits of what they can get away with. But what if there was a solution?
In 2017, a sci-fi blockbuster easily identified the problems hurtling at us and imagined a surprising solution: What if you could shrink yourself so that you were five inches taller?
It may sound silly, but like Reducing Quickly demonstrated in the opening scenes, this compound medical procedure can dramatically reduce humanity’s impact on the planet. And as a bonus, your money goes a lot further when you only have to eat the equivalent of one M&M’s a day and your palace is the size of a shoebox.
Written and directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways, Nebraska) and was released five years ago on December 22, 2017, Reducing It was a critical and box office flop, but perhaps it was ahead of its time. While the movie remains inconsistent in degree, it has aged spectacularly in the half-decade since its debut. Here’s why Reducing Worth a second shot – or a first if you missed it.
Reducing It stars Matt Damon as Paul Saverink, a middle-class American living 10 years after the invention of “Downsizing.” Paul lives a quiet life with his wife, Audrey (Kristen Wiig), until he learns that his old childhood friend, Dave (Jason Sudeikis), has become a bit person. Dave reveals that he has been living as a king in a small-scale community called Leisureland, and before too long, Paul and Audrey decide to join him.
This is where the movie takes its first twist. Audrey changes her mind at the last minute and fails to warn Paul before he undergoes the irreversible procedure. Then she divorced him, taking enough money with her to prevent him from living as a petty king. After moving into a less impressive apartment in Leisureland and getting a call center job to pay the bills, Paul meets two people who will change his life: a sketchy party boy played by Christoph Waltz, and a maid named Ngoc Lan Tran, played by Hung Chau.
While Waltz is a diversion, Chau’s character drives the plot as ReducingThe second half is filtered into gear. Ngoc Lan, a Vietnamese activist, shrank against her will and was imprisoned until she fled to America. Paul progresses to the downsized service workers who keep Leisureland running but are forced to live in a slum outside its walls. Eventually, they embark on a trip to Norway to visit the inventor of downsizing, only to learn that, spoiler alert, the world is still doomed despite his best efforts. It’s an issue with the ending, but it’s also (probably) realistic.
In an interview with WatchmanAlexander Payne noted that while he knew Reducing As completely fictional as it may be, there is still a lot of research that went into making the movie. “The technology is there,” he joked in 2018. “All the patents have been bought by the apparel companies.”
He added that according to some of the physicists he spoke to, shrinking your body would have surprising effects. “You can jump higher and maybe live longer, you can put popsicle sticks on your arms and maybe fly a little bit, flap around.” He said. “But I have a movie to make, and I have other things to think about.”
five years later, Reducing It’s still an incomplete movie. The tone swings wildly from comedy to drama to romance, and while Pine hints at the more interesting ramifications of the procedure (from the anti-downsizing sentiment to the details of the procedure itself), the film is ultimately more concerned with Matt Damon’s personal journey as a white man learning how to live. The other half is more of an exploration of that life.
Still, where Reducing It may have felt prescient in 2017, it’s approaching surprising levels of realism in 2022. Maybe five years from now we’ll be reading about the sci-fi movie directed by Pine on smartphones the size of Tic Tacs.
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