"The Giant Mechanical Man" is a movie that I groan to think of; written and directed by Lee Kirk and starring Jenna Fischer (Kirk's wife) and Chris Messina, "The Giant Mechanical Man" is one of those trite films that is best described as "inoffensive" merely for the fact that while it has nothing of real value to say to the audience apart from broad platitudes and broad clichés, in all other categories it's a well-made film that is reasonably well acted. The film follows Janice (Fischer) a generally un-ambitious, single woman floating from temp job to temp job; through classic, quirky exposition, she meets Tim (Messina), a street performer who has just broken up with his snobbish girlfriend. Naturally, this means romance between the two will follow, occurring as the two meet again (Janice doesn't know Tim is the titular character that Tim portrays) as newly hired employees at a zoo.
Much of the film's runtime is spent giving Janice and Tim cute things to say and quirky situations to get involved in and very quickly, the audience can foresee where the movie will eventually find itself in a hastily executed ending meant to fill viewers with anxiety while still clearly choreographing its ultimate denouement. Fischer and Messina do far more than serviceable work in roles of little substance; the characters they inhabit are at times merely broad generalizations, in many ways, hallmarks of the "quirky indie romantic comedy" which "The Giant Mechanical Man" painfully emulates while injecting only a small dose of originality that allows it a distinct image. In a way it's very sad, that the most memorable part of the movie is the recurring character played by Topher Grace, who Janice's sister's Jill (Malin Akerman) fixes her up with. The character is your typical smug motivational speaker, but something about Grace's oblivious performance makes his character chuckle worthy to say the least.
while I can't necessarily glowingly recommend "The Giant Mechanical Man" to any particular audience, on the same hand, I can't say it's a complete waste of time. The film has an earnest message of being true to oneself that manages to not find itself lost under well-executed clichés and the story itself is well paced, feeling far shorter than the 94-minute runtime. The film's ultimate strong point are Fischer and Messina, who are quite likeable and at times believable as human characters, but these moments feel removed from the underling, heavy handed "quirk" that viewers are offered as genuine character development and comedic fodder. Ultimately, if you're in the mood for something serviceable and genuinely good-spirited, "The Giant Mechanical Man" is a pleasing and mildly satisfying way to kill an hour and a half.
The 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is a little bit disappointing. Perhaps chalk it up to low budget filmmaking (which I'm assuming), but the transfer has a very soft look with noticeable digital noise/grain. Colors often vary from natural to slightly warm, with no ultimate consistency. Digital artifacts are present, albeit minor, and contrast is tolerable, but not fantastic.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 English audio track would be more impressive if it were a standard stereo track. There's no major low-end workout and the surrounds are used for minor atmosphere at best. Dialogue, score and effects are well balanced with no distortion present at all, but nothing on the track screams, "amazing." An English 2.0 track is present as well.
The lone extra is a sub-four-minute interview with Lee Kirk and Jenna Fischer.
"The Giant Mechanical Man" is a familiar story inhabited by characters who familiar but still somewhat unique personalities. The movie doesn't go to any great length to make a huge statement about anything, including it's underlying themes, but doesn't contain any single element to classify it as badly made. It's a semi-enjoyable, quick-moving indie comedy that is a lot better than some fare out there that shoots for the moon and crashes spectacularly. Rent It.