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Essentially about the offbeat relationship between two very distinct people with anything but normal families, Gigantic centers around the search for meaning by Brian Weathersby, a 29-year-old high-end mattress salesman who is looking for something to anchor his life to. He becomes determined to adopt a baby from China but soon gets involved in an unexpected and wholly different kind of romance when the quirky and pretty Harriet, aka Happy, wanders into his showroom and falls asleep on one of the beds. Along the way, he must deal not only with her loudmouth father Al, but also his own dippy parents and two older, more successful brothers.


When describing the charms of Gigantic, all roads lead to Paul Dano who underplays Brian in a wonderfully droll deadpan-style reminiscent of the great Peter Sellers in Being There. Dano, who has done this low-key kind of act before in Little Miss Sunshine, is truly winning without expressing visible emotion and letting others play off his blank canvas. As Harriet, Zooey Deschanel also takes what could be a one-note character and invests her with complexity and quirky humanity. You can't take your eyes off of her when she's on-screen. Veteran actors Edward Asner and John Goodman play the pair's fathers, and both adapt their oversized personas beautifully to the precise rhythms established by the stars. Goodman gets great mileage out of his character's bad back problems and is better than he's been on screen in years. Jane Alexander as Brian's mother also has a couple of wonderful moments. Hot comedian Zach Galifianakis takes on the film's oddest role as a mysterious homeless man who keeps showing up to attack Brian.


Co-writer and first-time feature film director Matt Aselton takes a cue from directors like Hal Ashby (Harold and Maude, Being There) and Spanish surrealist Luis Bunuel in creating a tone and distinct minimalist sandbox for his actors to play in, and it works beautifully for those in the audience who don't need every little detail explained. By dialing it way down, he gets an aura of originality not attempted in many comedies these days.


By crossing the line between fantasy and reality and intentionally blurring his main character's emotional well-being, a unique device is used throughout that will require patience and suspension of belief before its ultimate payoff toward the end. The less adventurous viewers may not want to make the investment.


A restaurant double-date between Dano, Deschanel, plus Goodman and his date is brilliantly written and acted as Brian is grilled in vivid detail by Harriet's take-no-prisoners dad.


A slacker friend who has probably already smoked his lifetime supply of weed asks and answers his own question with every hello: ''Hey, dude, What's up? Not much.''


If you can find this indie gem in theaters, go! But it should be hitting the video shelves before you can say, ''Hey, dude. What's up? Not much.''



Bottom Line rated this film 3 1/2 stars.