There is something almost heroic in Zooey Deschanel’s determination to
maintain a idiosyncratic cult career despite the fact that she should be a
natural star – she’s funny, a good actress, charming and an understated
beauty. She should be getting some of the roles being offered to Anne
Hathaway, Kate Hudson, Elizabeth Banks and Rashida Jones, but instead she
seems to prefer to toil away in below-the-radar alternative titles like
the rare occasions in which she has worked in Hollywood mainstream roles –
like the adorable love interest in Will Ferrell’s Elf and as the one
saving grace in the beyond-awful Matthew McConaughey/Sarah Jessica Parker
comedy Failure to Launch – Deschanel paints with pixie dust and
upstages all the frenetic attempts of co-stars to dumb everything down.
has even taken that approach to other aspects of her artistic career – her
musical side project with folk artist M. Ward was subtly named She & Him and
they refused to play up the
“actress trying to be a singer” storyline. It was
just something she felt she wanted to do, so she did it – another life
willingness to do eccentric indie fare has made her sort of the sweetheart
of the film festival guys – a Parker Posey of the oughties.
The Good Life. Unfortunately, indie isn’t always good. Sometimes it’s just quirky for
quirkiness’ sake. Her character here – nicknamed Happy – is just the same
type of nerdboy ideal of a neurotic, quirky, inscrutable fantasy woman that
Deschanel has played all too often before, most recently in last year’s
Happy is gorgeous but doesn’t realize it, cowed by her powerful and
boisterous father. (Played by John Goodman – I’m not getting the family
resemblance there.) She is quiet, single, supportive, a little mopey and
yet not afraid to ask a guy she barely knows “would you be interested in
having sex with me?”
lucky guy is Brian, who is played by Paul Dano – his oddball follow-up to his
breakthrough role as the priest in There Will Be Blood. He is a
28-year-old single New York mattress salesman who has decided he wants to
adopt an Asian baby. (Yeah, that happens...)
He also tends to do magic mushrooms with his dad (Ed Asner, certainly
playing against type) and for some reason seems to be stalked by a menacing
homeless man who beats, shoots and stabs him regularly. It often seems like
the homeless guy may be a figment of his imagination – but he really is
getting the scars.
Brian meets Happy when her dad buys a $14,000 mattress from him. (I’m
sorry, I know I’m not exactly in the loop on furniture prices, but that
sounds awfully high to me - particularly since when they
deliver it, the bed is a single, not a queen or king.) He seems to
fall for her then and there, though we are not
sure whether it is because of her quiet beauty or
because of the fact that she was comfortable enough to fall asleep on the
floor model of the mattress for a few hours.
follows is an extremely understated love story – with some designed-to-be-offbeat
sidetracks with their families and his co-workers. The problem is the
uniqueness of the characters lives seem to be all put on.
As I said before: quirkiness for quirkiness’
sake. That, I’m afraid, is a statement that pretty much sums up
Gigantic in general.
movie was never made with any eye towards playing at the multiplexes. I’m
sure that director Matt Aselton would be tickled pink if his little opus
gets played on the festival circuit a bit before getting casually slipped
into video distribution. It’s nice that they set their sights low and stuck
with their convictions. Someone should remind him however that different
does not always mean better and sometimes it is nice for someone to actually
enjoy your work of art.
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2009 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: March 21, 2009.