Review: The Giant Mechanical Man (2012)
The Giant Mechanical Man is a clichéd love story filled with character actors masquerading as leads. It feels like a very good student film – meaning it’s a fine piece of work, but something’s missing. There’s a very obvious lack of chemistry between the two leads, Jenna Fischer and Chris Messina, and – what’s worse – a lack of believability in the story as a whole. I guarantee you’ve seen this film before, in one form or another: two down and out losers are misunderstood by society at large (everyone’s an asshole except for them) and they find each other, and it’s a happy ending. This rom-com (it’s not funny) follows the formula, but doesn’t offer anything extra, so it’s pretty forgettable.
The only unique thing about The Giant Mechanical Man is Tim’s (Chris Messina) hobby of street performing as a giant mechanical man, wearing silver makeup and walking around on stilts. Tim’s hobby is a great metaphor for his character, as he initially sees himself as above everyone else because he’s pursuing his art, when in reality he’s just a poor fool on a street corner. I did enjoy the film’s exploration of passion versus ‘making a living’, but this was laid on so thick that it smothered the rest of the film. The secondary characters (Malin Ackerman, Rich Sommer and Topher Grace) were also heavily exaggerated. Their personas were so inflated they couldn’t possibly have existed in real life. They may, however, have been overemphasized from Janice’s (Jenna Fischer) point of view because she has no character at all, so anyone compared to her would seem over the top. One character actor who really stood out was Lucy Punch. Although her part was small, she really brought it! She’s a great actress and really deserves more (meatier) roles in better fare.
Believability also comes into question when Janice and Tim are both hired as labourers at the local zoo. First of all, I wish it was that easy to get a job – even labour positions can be tough to get today, but Janice and Tim are signed up on the spot. I’m not sure what qualifications Tim has, unless he put down ‘Giant Mechanical Man’ on his CV and just hoped for the best. Later in the film (spoilers) Janice demands a better job and is immediately given an assistant position. Excuse me? How does that make any sense? In reality, no one can go to their boss and say, ‘I don’t like being your secretary anymore, can I do something else instead?’, and have this materialize. This really made me mad – as you can probably tell.
The music in The Giant Mechanical Man also leaves much to be desired. All the tracks feel very obvious and very angsty. For instance, playing “You got me all Wrong” by Dios Malos amid sad, lonely walking shots of Jenna Fischer is overkill. But aside from angsty music, poor casting choices and a lack of chemistry, the film is beautifully shot, and some of the sequences are very visually appealing. The cinematographer, Doug Emmett, is probably better known for his work on The Bachelorette (the film) or Paranormal Activity 4, but The Giant Mechanical Man has a low key, quiet elegance about it that’s mildly charming.
There are a lot of things wrong with this film, but I’ve seen worse. I would recommend this for anyone looking for a fluffy romance.
Gallery of Images from The Giant Mechanical Man