Colossal

(Welcome to The Daily Stream, an ongoing series in which the /Film team shares what they’ve been watching, why it’s worth checking out, and where you can stream it.)

The Movie: Colossal

Where You Can Stream It: Hulu

The Pitch: We all have our demons — our inner monsters if you will. But imagine your biggest flaws, the ones you’re still struggling to work through today, grew giant legs and monster bodies and wreaked havoc on a city of 9 million people. Well, that’s what Anne Hathaway’s Gloria is dealing with, along with all the other things wrong with the world: job searches, breakups, and abusive relationships.

Why It’s Essential Viewing: The less you know about Colossal, the better. If I could hide the poster from you, I would, but alas, Hulu will give away the gist of the film before you’ve even pressed play.

Regardless of how much you do know, this movie is a wild ride, even though the initial premise seems fairly simple: Gloria is a binge drinker, who recently lost her job and has been kicked out of her New York apartment by her beautifully bearded boyfriend, Tim (Dan Stevens), who’s tired of her selfish behavior. So she heads back to her parents’ home in one of those classic glad-I-got-out hometowns where she immediately runs into her childhood best friend, Oscar (Jason Sudeikis). Now the owner of his father’s bar, Oscar offers her a job and helps Gloria get settled in.

The first half-hour is basically the start of a rom-com — in fact when I blindly watched Colossal back in 2017, that’s what I thought I was walking into. But a rom-com it is not, and I haven’t stopped thinking about this movie since. Finding it on Hulu was a delightful surprise. There’s nothing quite like revisiting a movie you haven’t seen in years: especially one you remember as deeply strange. And Colossal really takes the cake, because it ended up being MUCH stranger and even better than memory served.

Colossal is all about how easy it is to dismiss our self-destructive actions as harming no one but ourselves…up until they manifest as a giant, terrifying Kaiju monster that wrecks the lives of innocent people. Because that’s a problem.

The film stars Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis, but not as we’re used to seeing them. This is not Ted Lasso’s smiling Sudeikis. In fact, you’ll struggle to remember that’s the same man who regularly delivers wonderfully wholesome. And fine, Hathaway is still charming and all-around wonderful because she always is and can’t help it, but Gloria has plenty of destructive tendencies to work through. The film explores selfishness and our human instinct to lash out: it’s about who we are at our very worst and how that’s different from who we are at our core.

Spoiler alert: for some people, it isn’t.

Focused on the destruction caused by people (who are obviously the scariest monsters of all), the movie is only superficially interested in the smashing destruction of Kaiju monsters. Still, it’s very creative when it comes to Kaiju-on-Jaeger action. And for a movie with giant monsters as a metaphor for personal issues, Colossal is shockingly subtle, in addition to being darkly funny and brilliantly acted.

What stuck with me over the years is how well Colossal nails the insidiousness of abusive relationships. The films let characters marinate while the very worst in them bubbles beneath the surface. Sometimes, even when you know someone’s off, their behavior is so small that you find yourself dismissing it. It’s often disguised as kindness or even justified unhappiness, and you’re unable to put into words exactly what’s wrong…and when their true colors show, everything’s progressed so much further than you imagined.

In Colossal, all of that poignancy and clever commentary is couched in an absolutely wild premise about a woman and her Kaiju monster. And that’s something we all need in our lives.

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