Directed by: Judd Apatow
Premise: The cast and crew of a Hollywood special effects franchise gather in a hotel to make a movie while observing pandemic safety protocols. Isolation and egos derail the shoot.
What Works: The Bubble has a talented cast that includes Karen Gillan, Guz Khan, Leslie Mann, Keegan-Michael Key, David Duchovny, and Pedro Pascal. These actors are really trying to make the film work and there are isolated moments that are funny.
What Doesn’t: Filmmaker Judd Apatow is generally known for making mid-scale domestic comedies such as Knocked Up and Trainwreck and The King of Staten Island. Apatow has tried something new with The Bubble and unfortunately the director is out of his depth. The overwhelming impression is that of a filmmaker fumbling his way through the project. The Bubble is intermittently funny but the film is overlong and inconsistent. The picture’s most obvious inspirations are Christopher Guest’s For Your Consideration and Ben Stiller’s Tropic Thunder but The Bubble more frequently resembles Adam Sandler’s Grown Ups movies. Much like the haphazard filmmaking that it lampoons, The Bubble has the feel of a movie that was made without a coherent vision or even a finished script. The picture never settles on a tone. Some scenes are very silly and other moments are shockingly violent. Nothing coalesces into a coherent whole. Apatow’s films have often suffered from extraneity but The Bubble is the most egregious example because it is so obviously inflated. The Bubble poses as a satire but it doesn’t really say anything about Hollywood or about the pandemic. The entertainment industry, franchise filmmaking, and capricious pandemic safety protocols are certainly ripe for satire but this film doesn’t do anything smart or insightful with them. The Bubble feels like it was made by and for show business insiders but it’s difficult to imagine anyone getting anything out of this movie regardless of their proximity to Hollywood. Everything in it is obvious and none of the jokes are particularly sharp. The Bubble ends with a teaser for a behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of the film-within-the-film. That pseudo-documentary looks much funnier and more interesting than anything in this movie and it probably would have been a much better approach than whatever Apatow and company attempted to do here.
DVD extras: Available on Netflix.
Bottom Line: The Bubble is a disastrous comedy. The cast are game but the filmmakers’ attempts to satirize Hollywood and the pandemic come to nothing.
Episode: #897 (April 10, 2022)