Brian (Paul Dano) is a nice, quiet guy who works in a Manhattan mattress store. His father and older brothers are all successful, but Brian doesn’t have lofty career aspirations. All he’s wanted his whole life is to adopt a baby from China, and he’s finally on the waiting list at an agency. One day a blustery rich dude with a bad back (John Goodman) comes into the store and orders himself a bed. He sends his daughter Harriet – nicknamed Happy (Zooey Deschanel) – to the store the next day to make the arrangements. After the requisite meet cute (she falls asleep on one of the beds in the showroom) Brian and Happy begin a sweet romance. But, it’s complicated. He’s almost a dad. She’s never been in love before and she’s scared.
I really dug this movie, but not without some reservations. There are a couple of unnecessary subplots: one about a crazed man trying to kill Brian, and another involving a friend of his who is studying learned helplessness in rats. The metaphors kind of miss the mark, and the stalker storyline injects a magical realism that feels really out of place.
There is also a problem with Dano, who plays Brian as a cypher. He is so quiet and earnest that it’s hard to see in him what the vibrant and verbose Happy does (for the sake of the gods – her name is Happy!). In the end though, Gigantic is buoyed by the charm and energy of Deshanel, Goodman, Ed Asner and Jane Alexander.