Colossal Isn't The Kaiju Comedy You Think It Is — It's Better

Here's the elevator pitch for "Colossal": Anne Hathaway is a party girl with a heart of gold and every time she gets drunk, a giant monster terrorizes Seoul. This combination of words makes next to no sense and yet, this movie really does exist and is even more thrilling than you can possibly imagine. 

"Colossal" advertises as a city-stomping monster movie — or at very least, the head-scratching kaiju on the poster does that for it. In reality, Nacho Vigalondo's inventive hybrid is too complex to classify. A romantic comedy crossed with a monster movie, "Colossal" is comedic camp and a dejected character study. Hathaway's Gloria is in the midst of a personal crisis, preferring to spend her nights out on a bender and her days wallowing in her hungover sadness. She rinses and repeats the process to hell and back, but slowly learns that living her life in a chaotic, boozy haze isn't just a personal choice, but one that affects everyone around her. Oh, and all of Seoul, South Korea. Because, although it takes Gloria a while to figure this out, when she walks around her childhood playground at 8 a.m., she controls a giant monster that materializes in Seoul — giving her the power to actively (if accidentally) harm an entire city of people.

The set-up is as bizarre as it is intriguing: just think of the potential! It's not hard to envision all sorts of wacky scenarios where Gloria lives out the ridiculous childhood fantasy of bringing some insane sci-fi fantasy into the dreariness of real life. Out of nowhere she has a superhuman ability that astonishes her friends and completely shatters the way her boring world once worked. Fun time, right? Except that the core of "Colossal" is much more complicated than funny kaiju hijinks.

Do it for Anne

The reasons to watch "Colossal" are aplenty, but here's the most obvious: Anne Hathaway. Ever since her dazzling 2001 debut with "The Princess Diaries," Hathaway has proven herself as one of Hollywood's best and brightest stars. "Colossal" is a showcase for her comedic and dramatic talents alike and in fact, the film challenges the image we have of one of America's Sweethearts. Charming as she is, Gloria is a deeply flawed person working through a difficult point in her life. Out of work and down on her luck, she has a bad habit of binge-drinking her days away and showing up to her boyfriend's apartment with no recollection of her night out. The boyfriend in question is Dan Stevens in all his post-"Downton Abbey" bearded glory, and he spends most of his screen time exasperated, until he packs her bags and kicks her out of his New York apartment.

With nowhere left to go, Gloria is forced to move back to the hometown she was once thrilled to escape from. In a lot of ways, this brings out the absolute worst in her. Hoping to find time to write and reignite her career as a journalist, she instead retreats into a bottle. Or many bottles, to be correct. Gloria turns out to be as likable as she can be detestable, routinely making terrible decisions; yet somehow, she's impossible not to root for — especially as the film unravels all that she's up against.

A rom-com with a dark twist

But before things get weird (and they really really do), "Colossal" sets up a premise that seems awfully familiar. Hathaway is paired with Jason Sudeikis as Gloria's childhood best friend, Oscar. Other than that time he punched Baby Yoda, Sudeikis has really secured a niche for himself as a wholesome figure in pop culture, thanks to his tenure on "SNL" and the endearing power of "Ted Lasso." This only makes revisiting the film even better because though Oscar seems like a helping hand when he arrives, he turns out to be much more complicated than he presents.

Now the owner of his father's bar, Oscar helps Gloria settle into town when she arrives: offering kindness, a job, and someone to drink with at the end of a long day. Plus, they have something to bond over — neither of them are happy with where life has brought them! Reuniting with the childhood best friend, working together, lamenting life problems — this clearly has all the makings of a romantic comedy, right? Surely the next step is for the duo to bond, reinvent their lives together, and shock themselves by thriving in their tiny hometown! Well ... not quite.

Expect the unexpected. Instead of simple swooning, "Colossal" fuses the romantic comedy roadmap with monstrosity ... in kaiju form. When a giant monster shows up on the news, hovering over Korea and threatening destruction, Gloria notices a clip where the strange creature mimics her unique physical tic — the way she scratches her head. As it turns out, the monster is her. Get it? Because inside of each and every person is a raging kaiju with the power to decimate a city. But while most of our demons remain internal and just wreak havoc on like, our self-esteem, Gloria's actually manifests as monster with the power to stomp on innocent lives. What better way to teach a self-destructive burnout a lesson than to bring her face to face with her enormous, scaly problems?

Toxic masculinity

Coping with monstrosity is an evergreen experience and when "Colossal" arrived in 2017, it couldn't have been better timed. Addiction is messy and while Gloria once thought of her drinking as something she could contain to herself, she comes to see that others are in danger too. And that's just the tip of the social commentary iceberg — because then there's Oscar.

Speaking of 2017, the only thing more timeless than inner demons is the fragility of masculinity! Here's a spoiler for the climax of "Colossal" — Oscar isn't the Nice Guy he pretends to be. The boy next door has a dark side — and not in the mysterious bad boy kind of way. Offering Gloria kindness, friendship, and unsolicited furniture was all a front for having control over her, because Oscar wants something in return. Jealous of Gloria's New York success and pleased to see her life derailed, Oscar jumps at any opportunity to manipulate his old friend and generally, sabotage the lives of anyone else trying to scrape themselves up from rock bottom. In retrospect, Oscar offering Gloria a job in his bar — inviting her to be around alcohol just as she was trying to cut drinking out of her life — doesn't seem so kind. Beyond the many obvious ways that he hurts her, the insidiousness of their abusive relationship is that for so long, his frightening behavior is masqueraded behind a smile.

Enter the Kaiju (aka inner demons!)

Between Gloria and Oscar, "Colossal" is a brutal exploration of how people's inner demons can hurt everyone in their vicinity. Turning into the monster is easier than Gloria realizes and when she's not careful, the person she is at her very worst overtakes the rest of her. Oscar is on a similar journey — letting his fears and insecurities turn him into a monster — but without Gloria's self-awareness and regret. 

Addiction, self-sabotage, abusive relationships — all of this and more is wrapped up in the unexpected, genre-bending package of "Colossal," a movie that is also darkly hilarious and features two giant, rampaging monsters. You too can revel in the joys of this hybrid rom-com, kaiju, character-study! Not many films can boast this level of weirdness, but "Colossal" is offbeat enough to satisfy the desire for an intriguing character piece and the feral part of our brains that just wants to see some epic Kaiju-on-Jaeger action.