The director who gave us American greatness in Election, Sideways and About Schmidt has a half an off-day, particularly for the second part of this comedy about a Nebraska man, Matt Damon, who agrees to be shrunk to tiny in order to save money and help the planet.

Micro-communities are all the rage, following the amazing invention of a Norwegian institute, and the future of the human race is assured by this shrinking technology, meaning whole cities can thrive on very little food, taking up very little space but still having all the anodyne luxuries of Western life.

The film opened the Venice Film Festival, bringing with it big awards hopes but these haven’t materialised. for good reason. It’s all very cute and clever to start with, as Damon and his wife Kristin Wiig take the tiny plunge.

But Payne loses his grip, and his perspective, badly after that. There are wild turns from Christopher Waltz and Udo Kier, Wiig disappears and there’s a frankly tasteless part for Hong Chau as a Vietnamese refugee. What could have been an intriguing, Swiftian satire on size, waste, inequality and imbalance, is swept away for an eco message and more Matt Damon in bad jumpers. A shame.

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