Movie Review: The Giant Mechanical Man (2012)

Detroit/Royal Oak Location Gem__9/10

Fittingly, I picked up this DVD via the Novi Library, Novi being a 2d-tier suburb of Detroit. Reading the jacket, the movie had some known actors and just looked like a literate, intelligent love story, which immediately brought to mind 500 Days of Summer. As I popped it in the player and looked at the cityscapes, I said, “Wait a minute, I’ve seen these buildings, these streets,” many of them in a state of decline. “Is this movie set in downtown Detroit?” Sure enough. Which the writer/director doesn’t explicitly tell you, but you slowly figure it out. And the zoo settings are, indeed, the Detroit Zoo, which is actually in nearby Royal Oak north of the city.

The movie begins with a man walking into what looks like a loft apartment or office in a city, then slowly putting his face on with paint, then his costume, a threadbare-looking silver suit and derby hat, long exaggerated bell-bottom slacks, concealing stilts that make him slightly taller than an NBA center. Tim (Chris Messina) is the Giant Mechanical Man, whose daily mission it is to walk about the streets, then stand still for long periods of time at the People Mover, Grand Circus Park, the Fox Theater, and other Detroit landmarks… where a (very) few people stop put money in his tip briefcase, for which responds with a sort of robotic expressionless motion sequence with hands, arms, and torso. Continue reading