Not What I Expected: Colossal (2017)

I saw Colossal last weekend and it was not what I expected. Then again, now that I think about it, I don’t know what it was that I expected, exactly. I mean, I watched the trailer multiple times (before other movies) and I my impression was Colossal is a rom-com with kaiju, something along the lines of Shaun of the Dead but with the zombies swapped out with Godzilla.

Cool. But…

The trailer is weirdly misleading. Or was I causal to the point of being flippant in how I had watched it? Ugh. Whatever the case,  I saw Anne Hathaway being the fuck up, Jason Sudeikis being the lovable love interest, and a giant monster mimicking Hathaway’s nervous tick and sweet dance moves. If it looks like a rom-com and quacks like a rom-com…

It’s a rom-com. Got it. Moving on.

Hmm…

Those moments in the trailer really leave a big question mark. Overcoming one’s failings is the quintessential rom-com plot, but our heroine is a giant monster (or somehow controlling one). Being a kaiju is a great metaphor for being out of control, which Gloria (Hathaway) absolutely is, but that’s a huge fuckup, not the harmless neuroses of a goofy protagonist in a rom-com. Love did not end well for King Kong (the original, not the remakes). And according to the theater gods, killing off your main character isn’t very romantic, or comedic.

So, what? If Colossal isn’t a rom-com, what is it? I mean, does she go on a rampage and has to make amends for the death and destruction? Does a rift open in the bottom of the sea releasing the Elder Gods and as a result she has to defend the Earth against them (and find love)? The question start to pile up quickly.

Wow. And somehow I never clicked to any of this. I really hadn’t paid attention to the lack of the real story in the trailer. Granted, I normally like to go in basically blind, that is, only knowing that the film is something in a genre I enjoy, but the trailer for Colossal really managed to subvert my attention, especially considering how many times I saw it.

Well, played Nacho. Well played!

All I can say is you need to see this movie. The trailer does not prepare you, but it does set you up with what you need. Like I wrote earlier, it’s weird, and hard to describe without spoilers, but Colossal is both exactly what you see in the trailer and yet different. It plays with your expectations without being gimmicky. It’s the kind of film that M. Night Shyamalan wishes he could make.

I don’t want to build this up like it’s the best thing since we crawled out of the primordial ooze. There are some flimsy plot holes (like how Gloria and the monster are connected) but where the story goes completely overshadows the problems, kind of like worrying about what your new girlfriend thinks of your cologne when a giant monster is attacking your town.

So while I have no idea what this movie is, I can say it was enjoyable and not at all what I thought I was going to get. It is rare that I’m surprised like that. I know that all I’ve done is go on about how the trailer threw me for a loop, but the trailer does such a good job of not doing it’s job—but strangely accomplishing it—that Colossal is so much better for it. It’s like the perfect title to a story, it can be great, but only in hindsight does the perfection become clear.

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