In sci-fi comedy Downsizing (2017), why do they shave hair and remove teeth before sending them into shrinking procedure?

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  • Note that this is remarked upon as a possible plot hole -- the mouse that showed the process to be workable was very much not shaven.
    – KlaymenDK
    Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 12:08

2 Answers 2


The downsizing process only works on living tissues. I guess bones are sufficiently alive to not require removing. ;)

Actually, they don't remove the teeth, only the fillings. From a review in The New Yorker:

The process of shrinking works only with living tissue, which is why, to prepare for the procedure, an enema is administered, all hair is shaved off, and all fillings removed from teeth. In the processing center, a battalion of natural-sized dentists works on patients before downsizing, and a battalion of small dentists gets immediately to work on the newly downsized upon arrival


Fillings need to be removed because if they aren't they'll cause a catastrophic failure in the 'downsizing' procedure.

NGOC LAN: This lady Gladys alone, no have nobody. Husband die Mexico when they make small. Stupid people forget take out gold from teeth, head explode.



A still-sedated Paul is at a station in this large room with rows of dentists’ chairs. His mouth is held open with a dental brace. A drill approaches. FILLINGS drop inside a metal pan.

Downsizing: Production script

I think we can assume that much the same is true of hair. It's not alive (unless it's encapsulated in living tissue?) and hence wouldn't shrink.

  • The hair thing made little sense, they'd have to properly depilate or the stubble would still be a problem! Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 10:20
  • @WillCrawford - you'd think, wouldn't you. It's probably best not to worry too much about it.
    – Valorum
    Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 10:38
  • You guys worry about hair when there's half a liter of non-living liquid, much of that being acid, inside your stomach (and huge amounts of non-living saliva in your mouth, huge amounts of non-living mucus in your trachea, ...)? Besides, your blood is, for the greater part, non-living, too. Red blood cells and platelets are barely alive, and die all the time in huge quantities. Blood plasma (including e.g. albumin, or antibodies) is non-living stuff.
    – Damon
    Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 11:07
  • @Damon It's sci-fi comedy, those tend to selectively ignore a lot of physics, biology and other sciences.
    – Mast
    Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 11:44
  • @Damon I mean, if you take it that far down, there's no part of you that is actually "alive". You're made up of a whole bunch of carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen, calcium, etc., none of which is individually "alive". It's only the combination of all these elements working together that we classify as "living". So the rules for what does and does not count as far as the movie's technology is concerned are fairly arbitrary. Commented Apr 20, 2020 at 14:33

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