Because of where I live, I rarely get a chance to see independent films. Our theaters tend to show the big money pictures, not the more artful variety. So when I had a chance to screen Gigantic, I jumped at the opportunity.
Gigantic stars Paul Dano as Brian Weathersby, Zooey Deschanel as Harriet “Happy” Lolly, Ed Asner as Brian’s father, and John Goodman as Happy’s father. Brian works as a mattress salesman and has always wanted to adopt a child from China. He’s been on the adoption waiting list forever. But his life changes when Happy comes by to pay for the mattress her father had selected earlier in the day. She falls asleep on a bed for a couple of hours and that’s just the start of a bizarre relationship between them…
As I hadn’t seen many independent films prior to this one, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. It turned out to be a great surprise and quite enjoyable, except for a strange homeless man who I can’t quite figure out.
Brian and Happy start seeing each other after Brian helps deliver her father’s mattress to their house. He then meets her sister, who runs a television talk show like a mini Genghis Khan. And her father is a powerful businessman with a unique perspective on the world. I suspect he gets this odd perspective while traveling on his back in the back of his car on the way to the chiropractor.
When we meet Brian’s family, we are introduced to a family tradition. Evidently once a year, the Weathersby men go to a cabin in the woods and hunt for wild mushrooms. These are not the type of mushrooms typically used in cooking. These are hallucinogenic shrooms that they imbibe before going on the trek in the forest to look for more. Afterwards, they go to a restaurant where they eat, drink, and be merry.
The relationship between Brian and Happy chugs along until Brian gets approved for an adoption. As soon as the reality of that hits Happy, she freaks out and does everything she can to avoid the situation. When she confronts Brian, he already has a beautiful little girl from China (that another set of adopted parents freaked out about and backed out on) and meets his family. Her bizarre tendencies fit right in with the Weathersby clan and we’re left wondering if the relationship will work out or not…
So those parts of the movie I get. Families are weird. I know mine is. Each has its own idiosyncracies. And sometimes they help and sometimes they hurt. But they’re the family you have and typically they love you.
The part I don’t get is this homeless guy who keeps beating up Brian for no apparent reason. It happens multiple times during the film. He even shoots Brian in the leg while the Weathersby clan is hunting for mushrooms. And then, the last time it happens, Brian makes sure it’s the last time. But who is he? What’s his relationship with Brian? Why does he keep attacking?
That said… I really loved this movie (except for the homeless guy). The characters are human with all the quirks that that involves. I’d never seen Paul Dano in anything, but really liked him in the role. Zooey was delightful as always. Seeing Ed Asner in this strange fatherly role and eating hallucinating mushrooms was an experience. And John Goodman is always a force to be reckoned with.
If you like quirky romantic dramas, I highly recommend Gigantic and give it a sold 3 out of 4 stars. It has already opened in New York and will be expanding to other cities throughout April.
Be sure to check it out!
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