The Bubble ⭐️⭐️ Review by Andrea Carnevali
A group of actors and actresses stuck inside a pandemic bubble at a hotel attempts to complete a film. Available to watch on Netflix.
Judd Apatow is now considered one of the hottest properties in Hollywood, not just as a screenwriter, which is how he started, but as a director and producer. His name has been attached to some of the most successful comedies of the last 20 years, both on TV and on the big screen, from The Larry Sanders Show, to The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Bridesmaids.
His most recent film The King of Staten Island came out just as Covid broke and forced all cinemas to close down: it ended up being one of the first victims of the pandemic in cinema terms, something which Apatow must have felt quite strongly about, because it his first film after that is actually about Covid.
The Bubble is about a group of narcissistic and egotistical movie stars (a concept quite easy to buy into), trapped on a pandemic-quarantined film set. Their attempts to finish filming the 6th sequel of a Jurassic Park-style franchise are constantly battered by Covid infections, restrictions and continuous lockdowns and production shut-downs.
On paper this had the potential to be absolutely hilarious and if I have to be honest I found myself laughing out-loud and smiling more during the first ten minutes of this film than in many other comedies this year.
This clearly wants to be a satire on show business, celebrity culture and Hollywood in general as being out of touch with reality. It’s also a film that deals with Covid itself and makes the madness of the pandemic part of the story.
There are indeed some funny moments at the start of the film, mostly playing on those frustrated feelings we’ve all shared during those endless lockdowns. For example, there are some amusing moments when during various Zoom calls we’re shown a studio boss always in amazing locations around the world, a proof that some people had definitely “better lockdowns” than many of us. Alas the film fails at any attempt to give any clever insights or genuine reflection on the state of Hollywood during the pandemic.
A lot of the comedy is made up of too many “inside jokes” which might play nicely to those Apatow’s Hollywood peers, but will probably go over the heads of any member of the normal audience.
The film feels more like a collection of sketches, most of which are way too indulgent, to say the least, and too stupid to be funny. They’re also badly strrung together in an attempt to make them look like a coherent film (an attempt which fails miserably).
None of the people in the large cast of middle-to-big names like Keegan-Michael Key (Key and Peele), David Duchovny (The X Files), Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Pedro Pascal (The Mandalorian) nor the many cameo appearances from stars like Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy, John Cena, John Lithgow and Benedict Cumberbatch help to make this any better.
In fact, after a while I just began to feel sorry for all these actors, not for what they were going through in the film, but because they were actually in this film and they were making complete fools of themselves and being generally very unlikeable.
The result is a very uneven film, which too often struggles to get a laugh and feels insufferable and interminable (a cardinal sin for a comedy, in my view).
It also reminded us of a time we’d rather forget… probably just like we should forget this film.
“Well at least we tried to make a movie in this difficult time. They can’t judge us for that” says one character just at the end of the movie. I wonder whether that’s Apatow realising he’s made a dud.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
The Bubble is available to watch on Netflix.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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