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Toronto: 'Gigantic' -- a good, small thing

September 9, 2008 |  4:41 pm


A rainy Monday night saw the world premiere of “Gigantic,” the debut feature by director Matt Aselton, who co-wrote the film with Adam Nagata. Starring Paul Dano and Zooey Deschanel, with supporting work by John Goodman, Ed Asner, Ian Roberts and Zach Galifianakis, the film puts an oddball spin on what could be a much more conventionally told tale about a young man finding himself (there’s a girl involved and not one but two quirky families).

Aselton's film runs a tight gamut between absurdist humor -- one entire subplot serves no real narrative purpose and became a point of debate during the post-screening Q&A –- and a more realist streak. At times Aselton’s reach exceeds his grasp, but with such a winning cast –- Deschanel typically shines while also reaching for some raw emotional notes that put new shading on her persona –- there is definitely something there. Dano is dependably sturdy as the wayward young man at the center of the film’s action.

Produced by New York indie veteran Christine Vachon, the film also marks the first executive producer credit for star Dano. While not exactly a full-on buzz screening (the weather, if nothing else, saw to that) there were a healthy number of sales types circling the room. In years past, this is the type of movie that might have made it to theaters with a little fanfare before finding a healthy life as a video rental. In today’s climate, it is exactly films such as these –- a little odd, a little off, but still with much to recommend –- which are really feeling the crunch.

-- Mark Olsen

(Photo: Director Matt Aselton and actor Paul Dano, courtesy Matt Carr/Getty Images)