Matt Aselton's Gigantic is what happens when the Sundance-ification of independent films goes one step -- or 37 steps -- too far. If you cynically boil down the prototypical Sundance film to its most basic elements, it's a collection of quirky characters doing random things, working toward a low-key, ambiguous conclusion. Gigantic was not presented at Sundance, but it's so much an example of those sensibilities, it could almost be a mockery of them. A one-sentence plot summary should provide some indication: "An unmarried mattress salesman (Paul Dano), who is the victim of random attacks by a homeless man (Zach Galifianakis), wants to adopt a Chinese baby, but finds his world turned upside down upon falling for a quirky customer (Zooey Deschanel), despite a lack of compelling evidence that they have any chemistry. The unmarried mattress salesman also drinks mushroom tea with his dad (Ed Asner) and takes long walks in the woods, and his best friend (Brian Avers) conducts experiments on swimming rats." Sorry, that was two sentences.
Gigantic is the kind of film you watch thinking "Why is that happening? And why is that happening?" It's maddening and obfuscated. If you're looking for relief among the talented cast, you won't find any. As time goes on, Deschanel offers us more and more evidence that there's no moony-eyed eccentric she won't play, no matter how marginally comprehensible. Dano, meanwhile, is just flat. Their relationship is the film's most off-putting element, swinging wildly from offbeat and twee to possessive and obsessive. They aren't characters, they're just collections of character traits smashing up against each other, with uninteresting results. Aselton won't even throw us a bone by explaining why his film is called Gigantic. Perhaps he wanted to make it easier for critics to call it a gigantic waste of time.