The Giant Mechanical Man


Lee Kirk’s The Giant Mechanical Man wants to be both a wry, intelligent romantic comedy and a softly satiric look at the ways sensitive types struggle in a world where brutal materialism infects even our most intimate relationships. Janice (Jenna Fischer) is a drifting dreamer, working crappy temp jobs until her flightiness finally gets her fired. Tim (Chris Messina) is the mechanical man of the title, a sort of mime/performance artist who paints himself silver, straps on stilts, and sets up in different public locations every day, hoping to remind the dreamers in our midst that they are not alone or crazy. The two of them wind up working menial jobs in the local zoo (a heavy handed metaphor; our heroic duo, like the animals, are beautiful creatures unfairly caged) where they of course connect. Messina (a wonderful, underrated actor) is fine here, but his character initially oozes the kind of grating moral superiority of so many struggling artist types. Tim eventually evolves out of smugness, but unfortunately, the film merely trades it for sappiness. Fischer, meanwhile, imbues Janice with a wounded soulfulness that cuts right through the clichés. The less said about a hideously wigged Topher Grace as a smarmy self-help author, the better.

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