Gigantic is the type of indie rom-com that mainstream audiences will hate, but if you like quirky, offbeat films where crazy things happen for little-to-no reason, then you just might fall in love with it. Okay, so there are times when nothing makes sense, like when a homeless man attacks our lead character for no reason, or when people get shot from off-screen with no explanation, but the absurdity is what makes the film charming and endearing — at least, to those who are looking for that.
Our main character is Brian (Paul Dano), a mattress salesman whose only goal in life is to adopt a child from China. He has dreamed about doing so for as long as anyone can remember; on his 8th birthday, his father gave him a bike, but he went to his room and cried because he wanted a Chinese baby. He does not yet have thirty years of life, and he’s not married, so the assumption is that he’ll have trouble getting the child. Both of those are obstacles, apparently. That’s about the only thing that drives his life, though, so he’ll have to persevere.
One day, a man named Al (John Goodman) comes into the mattress store and promptly decides to buy the most expensive mattress in stock. He says that he’ll send his “girl” later on to pay for it, because, well, why not? He means “his girl” quite literally, as his daughter, Happy (Zooey Deschanel), later shows up and promptly takes a nap on the newly purchased mattress. Upon awakening, she and Brian hit it off and soon embark on the relationship that will eventually drive the plot.
A large portion of the scenes in this film happen for little reason, done this way in an attempt to be quirky and funny. I like this sort of thing, and I was charmed by much of Gigantic. However, it all does feel like it’s building toward something more, and when that never comes to fruition, I felt disappointed. The ending is a big letdown, ending right before you get the conclusion you want. It’s like the filmmakers ran out of money and decided to end the film right there. In its own way, it makes sense, but from a narrative standpoint — what little narrative there is, anyway — it’s sad.
I suppose that left a bad taste in my mouth. When the credits began to roll, an audible “is that it?” was heard. But I thought back on the last 90 minutes and remembered that I did have fun and that I shouldn’t be too mad. It’s not too often that a rom-com comes along that I actually enjoyed for most of its duration. Gigantic was one. It overcame the genre constraints by being so darn silly; I forgot that it was a romantic comedy for most of the time it played.
Apart from a different ending, I’m not sure what Gigantic needed to be more effective. Not making sense it what separates it from the norm, so I wouldn’t want that to be changed at all, even if I did eventually wonder what was with the random assaults dished out by a homeless man (Zach Galifianakis). Perhaps it needed to be more consistently funny — there were some scenes that fell flat for me — but that might take away from its charm. I really don’t know what it needed to be any better, even if it is by no stretch a fantastic movie.
I think I would have chosen someone else to play the lead, or at least made Paul Dano act with a bit more emotion. He’s lifeless here, and while that was part of the point, it didn’t make me care about him or his relationship to Happy. Of course, Deschanel knows exactly how to play this role considering she’s been doing it for years now, and she’s suitably fine here. You almost begin to care about their relationship before remembering what a downer watching Dano act is.
Gigantic‘s highlights come from whenever John Goodman is on the screen. He’s so energetic and head-turning that he steals the show from his co-stars in the few times he turns up. He’s in the movie less than you’d like but more than you expect, if that makes any sense. Regardless, he is the best thing that the film has going for it, and if you have a reason to watch it, it’s for him. Oh, and Jane Alexander and Edward Asner are in the film, too, which is almost always a good thing.
It’s true that this sort of humor can’t sustain itself for too long, and if you’re not a fan, Gigantic isn’t going to change your mind. There’s a reason that this isn’t a two-hour flick: It would grow tiresome if it tried to play for that long. But at just over 90 minutes, I’m perfectly content. There’s a certain audience that Gigantic wants to attract, and I can only hope that its target will find the film someday. They will most definitely appreciate what it brings to the table.
Gigantic is a quirky indie comedy that might try a little too hard to be unique, but for those looking for this type of absurdist movie, it will be a treat. It features good supporting performances and is generally funny, and while it is a romantic comedy complete with many of the faults found in the genre, you forget that in the moment because of what the film peppers you with while it plays. If the ending was more of a conclusion, and if the lead was more charismatic and emotional, I’d wholeheartedly recommend it. As it is, it’s a fun little movie that I enjoyed, but I can’t guarantee it’s worth your time.