The Bubble Review: The sad pandemic satire of Judd Apatow Feels Dated

Judd Apatow’s scanty Netflix comedy about creating a blockbuster during the lockdown is almost completely laughable.

As unpleasant as it is to see one of the greatest comedy directors of the 21st century smiling through a leaden and unconnected mess that manages to feel oppressively self-amusing even when swearing to make fun of himself, Netflix seems determined to keep going. At least until “one of the greatest comedy directors of the 21st century who smiles through a leaden and incoherent chaos that manages to feel oppressively amusing even when he swears to make fun of himself” describes several films to become his own category on the streamer homepage.

While Judd Apatow’s “The Bubble” is not as cute or majestic as Adam McKay’s revealing “Don’t Look Up,” this Hollywood star-studded caricature is even more unexpectedly depressing. This element of surprise does not work in Apatow’s favor. It’s not a compliment to say that “The Bubble” is as depressing as modern comedies are – as depressing as the coronavirus that inspired it.

Set in a film quarantine during the pandemic, and released for more than two years in a global crisis that continues to surprise us with fun new twists every time we are cheeky, “The Bubble” crystallizes the unique pain of watching a sadly dated satire on the same crisis you are still trying to endure. Not only do you date in a way “here’s a bad joke for Da Baby”, but more often than not you date “are nasal swabs annoying?” Somehow. It is a low hanging fruit that we have all already gathered clean in our time. This does not mean that people can not make funny comedies about COVID (several of them already have!), I just did not fully understand how long we were all trapped in this purgatory until I saw a funny comedy about what is happening in 2020 , was shot in early 2021 and looks like it is about 9,000 years old.

It is commendable that Apatow tried to do something positive out of a bad situation and even more commendable that he used the opportunity to showcase a wide range of new comic talents from around the world (in addition to the acquaintances he found in his own home). ). But a talented cast of improvisers is not enough to disguise that Apatow and co-writer Pam Brady (“Hamlet 2”) had to knock out the original script in record time, nor does it change the fact that a film so broad and unrelated – it depended on the audience’s liking at the time instead of anything deeper – it was never going to stay fresh enough to survive in a formal post-production process for a year.

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“In the early days of the pandemic,” says the opening title card, “there was a lack of content; this is the story of the creation of ‘Cliff Beasts 6’ and the brave people who fought heroically to divert attention to humanity. “The Bubble” has not even reached its first proper scene and yet it is already clear that Apatow’s film should have been a joke. “The Bubble” seems to be gradually regretting its simple approach, but telling this story in a more formal way would require more advance planning than the project made possible. Also, he would not allow “The Bubble” to have his cake so comfortable and eat it as well: to be a comedy that ridicules the same content crisis that was created to help solve it.

“Cliff Beasts” is described as “the 23rd biggest action franchise of all time” and the full title of its latest installment is actually “Cliff Beasts 6: The Battle for Everest: Memories of the Requiem” – a first draft of a joke in a first draft of a movie so naughty and thrown that it makes “This Is 40” look like “The French Dispatch”. Carol (Karen Gillan, who clearly deserves a big studio comedy of her own) had good reason to leave the Cliff Beasts Cinematic Universe before reaching the levels of double-headed despair, but pretending to be half Jewish, half Palestinian to one star. . The vehicle called “Jerusalem Rising” turned out to be not such a hot idea for a white American named Carol, so it is easy for her agent (Rob Delaney, in the first of many painless cameos) to persuade her to return to the train dressing . After all, a set of tapes is the safest place to be in such periods before the vaccination.

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And so we arrive at the Palladian cottage where the film will be shot and where its cast will be held captive, as the COVID downturn turns the paycheck into the “Apocalypse Now” of complex stupidity (except for the director and the kid who shot the EPK, the “Cliff Beasts” crew does not really seem to exist). It is there, on the banks of the River Thames, where Carol will find herself confused by a strange group of people who can no longer stand each other until they arrive. Individually, everyone has a lot to offer a film that is much less than the sum of its parts.

The always funny Leslie Mann makes her usual joke as the steely star of the first five “Cliff Beasts”, while David Duchovny fits exactly into the mold of Apatow as the husband (and self-proclaimed “franchise keeper”) with whom adopted a teenage son a few days before their last divorce. Keegan-Michael Key does a lot of high energy things in his role as one of the top men in the series, but his performance seems to have been improved by 10 best things he has done in the past. This is doubly true of Fred Armisen’s extreme turn of Fred Armisen as the Sundance director coming over his head.

At least Pedro Pascal goes beyond his comfort zone as the “Game of Thrones” star embraces a cleaner comedy strip than he has ever done before. In a movie where real laughs are almost impossible to find, Pascal always seems to be able to stumble upon his mother at any time, and his turn as a cunning actor blinded by the honest girl who works in the hotel office (” Borat 2 “who surpassed Maria Bakalova, briefly confirming her raw genius) is enough to hope that he will compensate for the seriousness of his roles in” The Mandalorian “and” The Last of Us “with more nonsense in the future.

New faces – or old faces doing new things – appear in “The Bubble” with such frequency that it becomes frustrating to see what Apatow was aiming for and what he could have accomplished if his film did not look like a random collection of irrelevant sketches are related only to the common concept. It is clear that Harry Trevaldwyn (who plays the capable COVID tester who desperately wants to be friends with the stars) and Guz Khan (as a member of the quarantined “Cliff Beasts” cast) are important findings, but ” The Bubble “are too vague to show what they can do. The same goes for Apatow’s daughter, Iris, who excelled on Netflix “Love” and a real character is mined from her role as an extremely naive influencer starring in “Cliff Beasts 6” because of her followers on social media. The complete TikTok dance video choreographed in Zola Jesus’s enchanting “Sea Talk” is almost magnetic enough to pick up the messy pieces of this broken movie on its own.

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Apatow gets a lot of shit for creating scattered comedies that last David Lean’s epics, but the patchwork of scenes that include his latest has less in common with “Funny People” than “Movie 43” and may just be pointless. enough to make the director’s critics appreciate the flow of his previous work. The occasional track lands well enough that it can be tempting to see the volatile patchwork of irrelevant jokes in the film as a crazy expression of our collective lockdown fever (John Lithgow and a particular Scottish actor deliver parody moments of the industry that should to play more in baseball), but Apatow’s film is never intentional enough to escape the same sense of “just rejoicing that we made something for you” that’s seemingly trying to skewer and circulate long after we’ve overcome the despair that required it. . The fatal irony of “The Bubble” is that it has never been harder to be grateful that it exists.

Grade: D +

“The Bubble” will be available on Netflix from April 1.

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