Downsizing

Alexander Payne—celebrated for such seriocomic journeys as About Schmidt (2002), Sideways (2004), and Nebraska (2013)—turns to high-concept satire with this leaden effort about a radical new technology that reduces people to five inches in height. The characters may be small, but the logical gaps are enormous: the middle-class hero (Matt Damon) moves to a miniature community where even his modest assets buy him a tiny McMansion, though Payne never explains how these little Shangri-las sustain themselves economically (a scene of the hero working in a little call center hardly suffices) or defend themselves against predation by big folks (where are all the sadistic kids with magnifying glasses?). As the movie grinds on, Payne tries to steer it into a parable about climate change and the refugee crisis, issues that sit heavily on its flimsy, jokey premise. With Christoph Waltz, Hong Chau, and Kristen Wiig.