Director: Lee Kirk
Written by: Lee Kirk
Starring: Jenna Fischer, Chris Messina, Topher Grace, Malin Akerman
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Synopsis: A man dresses as a silver painted robot and inspires a woman to look at her life from a different perspective while those surrounding her consistently try to take control of her life.
The film starts off by taking a quick snapshot of the life of both Janice (Jenna Fischer) and Tim (Chris Messina) where you can quickly see how disconnected they are from society. Tim dresses as a giant robotic man as a form of artistic expression to help himself cope with the routine of life. Doing this seems to give him a perspective that Janice is lacking and desires. Janice is constantly attempting to fall into “the norm” but cannot seem to find what she wants. She finds herself to be bored and uninspired which leads to her being laid off. After losing her job, Janice is forced to move in with her sister Jill (Malin Akerman) because of her inability to pay rent. Around the same time Tim’s girlfriend is leaving him because of the way he lives his life and his obsession with his street performance. The film progresses in a step by step manner, showing the audience the similarities in the conflicts of each of the main characters’ lives. This slow progression provides an adequate and clear understanding that Tim and Janice should and will be able to relate to each other because of their struggles.
The side characters are the obstacles that stand in Janice and Tim’s way of achieving what they want. Janice’s sister Jill is consistently trying to rearrange Janice’s life in what she thinks is a positive way. In doing so, she introduces Janice to a motivational speaker named Doug (Topher Grace) with whom she continually pushes Janice to pursue romantically. Doug and Tim are complete opposites which is nice because it provides a balance of characters and ties in a great protagonist and antagonist to the story. Tim is confident yet humble while Doug is stereotypically arrogant and self involved.
For the most part, the actors and actresses portray their characters very well. The only role I was slightly disappointed with was Jenna Fischer’s character, Jill. I was not disappointed from the performance, she played her part well, I was disappointed with the part itself. Most people know Jenna Fischer for her role on The Office and Jill is very close to that role. The scene in the trailer where
Pam Janice is being fired seems to foreshadow the type of role that she will play. In independent films I look forward to seeing breakout roles in order to see another side of an actor or actress, but unfortunately I couldn’t keep my mind off how much Janice resembled Pam from The Office. I really liked Chris Messina, I think he does great in these types of dramatic roles. Messina has a way of emotionally connecting the audience, which is the true goal of an actor, and it adds to the character development aspect. Throughout the film his delivery is on point and the dialogue does not seem scripted, it flows very nicely. The film shows Messina’s dynamic range playing the role of both a statue-esque street performer and a free spirited individual who has his own perspective on life. Some may think that Topher Grace may have had moments of “over-acting” but I think that is exactly what his character needed. His role was intended to be more of a caricature and it was executed nicely. He did exactly what he was supposed to which was make motivational speakers look “cheesy” and over the top.
I think the most important thing about this film is its theme. The title itself is a metaphor that defines the theme. “The Giant Mechanical Man” represents people that have fallen so far into the routine of life that they have become metaphorical robots who focus more on completing tasks than living their lives. Character development is an important aspect of this film but the actions of these characters are what is reinforcing the overall theme. To call this film a love story would be a simplification of what it truly is, a life story. The film deals with love but it deals more with people just trying to find their way. Love is an effect from the search for life. In searching for their desires in life, two people find each other when searching for the same thing. The character relationships in the film show how one person can break you from the chains of routine and how others can lock you in. There is a set of back to back scenes that depict the difference between routine and choice. In one scene Janice is with Doug in a very familiar restaurant environment having dinner and very standard conversations. A following scene shows Janice with Tim at a random party at a very unique location surrounded by a lot of energy. The two scenes give a visual explanation of the choices in life, you can either spend your time doing things that are familiar to you or you can step off the paved path and maybe discover something new. Another interesting thing about the film is that its pace is set by the theme. When the characters following routine are in a scene, the film progresses more slowly and seems drab while the exact opposite occurs when Tim and Janice are sharing a scene.
I liked this film a lot and I loved the dynamics of most characters. The characters were easy to relate to for most people and it keeps the audience connected to the film. The message that this film sends was inspirational and gives a very positive perspective on life and love. I saw Tim’s portrayal of a robotic man as a representation of what our lives should and should not be. “The Giant Mechanical Man” is a metaphor for personal creativity and inspiration in order to pursue what your own art may be. My only gripes about the film would be my hope to see Fischer break out of a type cast role and that the film could have been longer to develop the characters further. I will say (without revealing) that the ending was truly poetic in its simplicity and it wrapped up the film nicely despite the fact that I still wanted more…which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.
The Giant Mechanical Man – 8 out of 10
A truly inspirational film, that gives perspective on life…