The premise of Nacho Vigalondo’s “Colossal,” a Godzilla monster comedy starring Anne Hathaway, is such a creative burst that the movie earned a decent review just by getting to paper. A drink-til-you-drop party girl gets dumped by her boyfriend, moves home to a small town, takes a job as a waitress, and tries to sober up. Meanwhile across the world, a giant lizard creature appears and disappears nightly to attack Seoul, Korea. When she scratches her head, it scratches its head.
The connection between them is clearly not a headscratcher, it’s a darling conceit. At the same time, the sense lingers that this debut film might work better if a more established provocateur had the same thought. Would “Colossal” by Yorgos Lanthimos be a better film? I suspect it would be.
“Colossal” is a movie about the damage done by drinking, both to the drinker and those around her. Frankly, a lot of films about alcoholism are hard to watch. You know where they are going, and they become tests to see how far down they will go in the name of “reality.” In contrast, the tone of “Colossal” is somewhere around quirky without losing sight of a gnarly subject. Its greatest success may be in finding a way to talk about the problem without the use of a “gritty realism” sledgehammer.
For the first hour, “Colossal” tracks this theme with its goofy premise. Somewhere around that point there is a major shift in a single character, played by Jason Sudeikis, from a seemingly generous old friend to a controlling menace. Frustratingly, this shifts the demons move from inward to outward. The focus moves from a quite game Hathaway dealing with her problems, to dealing with his less gripping ones. “Colossal” starts with an alcoholic dealing with herself and ends with her dealing with the problems of someone else.