The Giant Mechanical Man (2012) – Movie Review





This week’s Netflix pick is The Giant Mechanical Man. It’s new to Netflix and also listed in the Popular on Netflix category so I figured this would be a good selection.  The subject matter wouldn’t normally be something that I would jump at, but ultimately I figured, “why not?”

We meet Janice (Jenna Fischer) on a bad day.  She’s late for her first day at a new job as a museum ‘Do Not Enter’ sign.  Janice is miserably invisible; she’s lost and she’s a temp. She’s struggling to stay afloat, just like lots of other folks. She’s also starting to feel the effects of a life that’s been trampled, most days, until now.

Janice is getting dirty doing what needs to be done in order to sort out her precarious financial situation. She ends up working as a grape drink peddler at the local zoo.  In addition to this fabulous life shift, she’s also recently moved in with her well-meaning, overbearing and clueless sister, Jill (Malin Ackerman).  Janice loves her sister yet hates everything about her living situation. She’s struggling just to keep moving, when she sees Tim for the first time.

Tim (Chris Messina) is a performance artist.  He wears silver makeup, stilts and a metallic suit; he goes out, with his hat, briefcase and umbrella, every day, to perform for cash.  Tim sets out with great ambition and an unmistakable stride, to a public spot where he hopes to give people something to think about. He’s doing what he loves, yet he feels like he’s failing at life and so does his girlfriend, who leaves him just before he first spots Janice.

Tim doesn’t understand why life doesn’t get him.  He’s getting through it with as much grace and understanding as any of us, yet he’s losing motivation fast. Tim’s afraid none of it really matters and that’s what makes him so likeable to Janice (and the rest of us) because ultimately, we’re all afraid of the same thing.

Janice and Tim are both awkward. While I despise how trendy awkward has become, I enjoy both Janice and Tim.  They’re both refreshingly honest and unfiltered. They don’t come off as artificially and overwhelmingly nice, because they don’t make much of an effort in this department. They’re both engaging people, they just don’t advertise their redeeming qualities to everyone they come into contact with and I can respect that.

Janice and Tim end up working at the same zoo and their lives intersect profoundly.  The Giant Mechanical Man is the story of what happens when two outsiders meet that one person that makes them feel alive, present and accounted for.

giant mechanical man

Jenna Fischer is one of those actors that I just didn’t get until I saw that one movie that spelled out their style for me in moving pictures. This movie was that catalyst for my understanding Fischer’s style. I can really appreciate the delicate nature of her method now.  The way she applies it to this particular film is pretty great. She’s a good, off-balance mix of redeeming qualities and that makes her performance intriguingly entertaining.

Chris Messina, whom I feel most of us have seen around, even if we don’t watch The Mindy Project, is pretty good at ‘brooding.’ He’s a sincere mix of sexy, thoughtful, sharp and clueless. It turns out, he’s good at doing delicate too, just like Jenna Fischer.  Messina can project some deep-reaching emotion with just a look and that’s a nice change. His multilayered performance is awesome.

Both Fischer and Messina really shine in this movie when they’re on screen, together. They actually light up around one another and that kind of chemistry is fun to watch on screen.  Together they deliver performances that have plentiful individual merits, but intertwine with one another on multiple levels, which adds to the overall effect.

I suppose what I love most about this film is it’s subtlety.  The nuance and grace that make up the story, visuals and acting are ironically intense, but only in retrospect, which is kind of cool. The music in this movie scores serious points. The songs selected fit in like puzzle pieces and really help make this movie linger in your mind.

This movie is great because it reminded me that not everything has to be a mindfuck; the every day stuff can wow you too, if you let it.  This is a good one folks; it’s a rare gem.  You will probably like it, give it a shot.  Don’t judge based on the genre, short description or trailer.  Just watch it and have a good and sincerely uplifting time.


The Giant Mechanical Man – A

A = Movies this good don’t happen often and If you’re going to watch something you should watch this.  This is exactly what I go looking for when I go to the movies and I trust you’ll enjoy it, if you keep an open mind and give it a go.