“Colossal” may be the strangest rom com ever made. Director Nacho Vigalondo has taken the basic format—woman in trouble returns to hometown and strikes up a friendship with a former schoolmate—and turned it upside down. And inside out. And flipped it on their head. He simultaneously reinvents and destroys the form in a movie that might be best referred to as a rom mon.
Anne Hathaway plays Gloria, an unemployed Manhattanite who fills her days—and most nights—drinking. When her boyfriend Tim (Dan Stevens) kicks her out of their apartment she returns to her small hometown a broken, drunken wreck. On home turf she reconnects with Oscar (Jason Sudeikis), a childhood friend, now owner of the local bar. She takes a job at the tavern, earns some spending cash and access to after hours booze. So far it is the set up for an unconventional rom com.
Then things take a weird turn.
One afternoon she wakes up with the forty-ounce flu to the news that a giant monster, an enormous Kaiju, has attacked Seoul, South Korea. It is worldwide news, but it soon becomes clear to Gloria that the mysterious attacks are somehow related to her early morning stumbles as she comes home from the bar. It sounds outrageous, like the ramblings of a drunken sot, but when she takes Oscar and her bar friends to the sandbox in the local playground, the monster suddenly appears on the other side of the earth, mimicking her every move. When her movements cause havoc in Seoul she is forced to confront the monster within, her addiction.
“Colossal” is the kind of script Katherine Heigl or Drew Barrymore or any other Rom Com Queen would likely toss in the trash by page 11. Hathaway, however, throws herself at it, relishing the off kilter and dowdy character. This may be a monster movie, but the real monster is her alcoholism not the foot stomping Kaiju. Hathaway embraces Gloria’s faults, working through issues—both physical and metaphysical—creating a character we’ve never seen in a rom com before.
Sudeikis begins the film as a typical rom com suitor, a nice guy who’s there for the woman he loves. When his affection isn’t returned things take a turn, allowing Sudeikis the opportunity to explore his dark side. Put together Gloria and Oscar are the Bickersons with a destructive (literally) edge.
“Colossal” isn’t exactly a monster movie or a Jennifer Anistonesque rom com. It is something else, something original and that is its beauty. It’s a reinvention, for both Gloria and its genres.