The Bubble Movie Review (Spoiler Free)
Two years into the pandemic, we are treated with a sarcastic portrayal of the Hollywood industry, trying to cope with the new health and safety measurements. Question is, can this parody serve any laughs?
Director: Judd Apatow
Cast: Karen Gillian, Pedro Pascal, Leslie Man, Fred Armisen, David Duchovny, Keegan Michael Key, Iris Apatow, Guz Khan, Peter Serafinowicz, Vir Das, Maria Bakalova & James McAvoy.
Run Time: 126 min.
US Release: 01 April 2022 (Netflix)
UK Release: 01 April 2022 (Netflix)
German Release: 01 April 2022 (Netflix)
I can’t imagine that this comedy is on a lot of people’s radars, especially because there was no real marketing for it. I only watched it as Netflix kept recommending it to me, and because I mostly like Apatow’s projects. After viewing this wrecking-ball of a flick, however, I quickly realised why I don’t consider the streaming networks' recommendations. These are two hours of my life I will never get back, but at least it gives me a chance to warn you all about it. So let’s talk about… The Bubble.
When a group of actors and actresses are stuck inside a pandemic bubble at a luxurious English hotel to complete a film, things get quickly out of hand. The ludicrous demands of the stars, clash with the mounting pressure the studio executes to finish filming.
Let me say this out straight; given that this was written and directed by Judd Apatow, I was surprised by how unfunny the plot is! That said, I wasn’t enraged by it. The Bubble is not insulting the audience’s intelligence like Movie 43 did, it's simply an uninspired picture lacking any sense of comedic value. It is not all bad though, the story at least tries to convey a message about corporate Hollywood, psychological problems that the pandemic might have brought us, as well as an unhealthy addiction to social media. Sadly it is all very pseudo-intellectual, meaning the message takes a nip in the bud.
Within there lies the main problem; this satire takes itself too seriously, thus it can’t even pass off as trash! All those snappy remarks about the industry, the actors and their behaviour during a pandemic, simply aren’t funny. If I ever laughed, it was rather out of pity, as it was rather awkward to watch. The viewer is left with a humourless, mundane, comedy that takes itself way too serious, which begins to bore after the 30-minute mark, therefore not even justifying its two-hour runtime. A shame as it had the potential to be a thought-provoking humorous picture.
Just as with the script, the dialogues feel uninventive. The jokes don’t land and even the actors don’t seem to try to sound somewhat genuine - it simply doesn’t feel real.
This leads me to the cast; this is a star-powered ensemble with the likes of Karen Gillian, Pedro Pascal and even David Duchovny. Even smaller cameos are played by big names, such as James McAvoy, yet every one of them is exchangeable. None seemed to be in the least inspired, in fact, it looks like they were just going through the motions because they are contractually obligated to participate in the film.
Karen Gillian as Carol Cobb is somewhat the lead but absolutely forgettable, which also can be said by all other characters! She is the most likeable out of the bunch, even though her constant bickering about being locked up in a five star, luxury hotel, not only is completely unrelatable, as well as emotionally distant, however, it also paints her in a very unsympathetic way.
Leslie Mann and David Duchovny play the on/off married couple on set. Both are established actors past their prime, unhappy with how their life turned out, yet incredibly unlikeable. Mann’s Lauren Van Chance, adopted a teenage boy to give her life more meaning but is emotionally shallow as a mother. Sadly that arc is left open and never further explored, as is Dustin Mulray’s (Duchovny) conflict, to be more than just a B-movie actor.
Pedro Pascal as Dieter Bravo is probably the most interesting character, trying to find some form of self-love for himself, while also suffering from drug addiction. Once again, those aspects are never deepened. Then we have Keegan-Michael Key portraying actor Sean Knox, who usually is immensely funny but disappointed here! Knox promotes himself as a wellness guru when not on camera, with his persona being inspired by the likes of Tom Cruise and Gwyneth Paltrow.
Rounding off the actors of “Cliff Beast 6” - the film being shot - is the director’s daughter Iris Apatow, who plays Tik Tok influencer Krystal Kris. A forgettable character, who is written in the most superficial way possible. Galen Hopper was cast as Carla, Krystal’s friend and another generic portrayal of a nihilistic zoomer.
The most frustrating portrayals were given by Fred Armisen and Peter Serafinowicz, as “Cliff Best 6” director Darren Eigen and executive producer Gavin respectively. Both are very unlikeable, clearly violating human-right acts to get the flick finished, without even suffering any real consequences.
Finally, we have Samson Kayo and Harry Trevaldwyn, playing the awkward COVID safety instructors. Just as the rest of the personas, both are incompetent idiots.
Cinematographically speaking, this is nothing special, rather very standard. Production value feels rather as if it was filmed for television, but then again I guess that is what streaming services have replaced more or less by now. The lighting and colour gradings are fine, while the scenery is mostly inside the hotel or in the studio, where “Cliff Beasts 6” is being shot. Now, given the fact that the “Cliff Beasts” instalments are supposed to be B-movies like Sharknado, some might argue that the production design and the bad effects are supposed to mirror that. Nevertheless, there is no real excuse for how generic it looks.
The music feels recycled and is forgettable, however, it does suit the lacklustre script. Andrew Bird, who composed the music, probably felt as inspired as Apatow himself, when he started writing the composition.
Verdict: I really don’t know what I anticipated when I hit play, whatever was going on in my mind, I definitely expected better from Apatow. The script feels uninspired, the jests aren’t cracking, while the message embedded is trivialised by the horrid writing. The cast seems to have fun during their Tik Tok video segments, yet otherwise, put as little effort as needed into their work. The cinematography and effects are TV standard at best, but nothing special, while the music is as boring as the rest of the movie. Finally, the run time is way too long! One thing is for sure; if you are having trouble falling asleep, go on Netflix and turn this on, I guarantee you will fall asleep within the first 20 minutes. The Bubble gets a measly 3.0 out of 10.
If you already saw The Bubble, I am sorry! For everyone else who is considering it, go to the cinema to watch Everything Everywhere, The Northman or even Doctor Strange 2. This is not worth your time! Thank you very much for reading!