When an interviewer asked him if he felt a little freaked out about how his new film The bubble was so rooted in early floundering attempts to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore might seem outdated by the time it premiered on Netflix, writer-director Judd Apatow replied:
I think I thought about it all the time and still do. Do people need a comedy about this? What would be the purpose of this comedy? I chose to write about isolation and how the world is trying to keep moving on even though everything has changed. . . . I wanted to explore what happens when you pause and think about your life.
Perhaps it’s the seriousness of this answer that provides a clue as to why The bubble is such a job. You will have to look hard to find a comedy as long and as heavy as this one. Apatow’s sense that he is performing a solemn public service may explain the film’s numbing pace, which undermines all the efforts of the most talented cast members to elicit laughs.
Starring Karen Gillan, Fred Armisen, David Duchovny, Pedro Pascal, Keegan-Michael Key and Leslie Mann as cast and crew members quarantined in a swanky British hotel during production on the sixth sequel to a hit dinosaur franchise called Cliff Beasts, The bubble is an eerily toothless satire of both Hollywood madness and the bizarre experience of trying to live and work in a COVID-lockdown-mandated ‘bubble’.
It’s almost awesome how well it fails.
Although it’s been widely reported that the film’s actual inspiration was the UK shoot for the big-budget 2022 sequel. Jurassic World Dominion during the pandemic, where the actors were staying together in a hotel, you’d never know that was an insider’s take on the film industry in crisis. The characters are so generic they barely register.
David Duchovny plays Dustin Mulray, the selfish star who’s always trying to rewrite the script, and Leslie Mann (Judd Apatow’s wife) is the vapid, passive-aggressive Lauren Van Chance, Mulray’s co-star in the franchise as well as his ex-wife and on-and-off love interest. So far, too bad. Keegan-Michael Key has a slightly more colorful role as a supporting actor in Cliff Beasts who became an incredibly positive and persistent wellness guru for a brand called Harmony Ignite. He must continue to reassure his comrades, “This is not a cult!”
Pedro Pascal plays Dieter Bravo, a once revered Method actor who goes to hell, but the script gives him almost nothing to do but hang around the hotel looking neglected and hitting on all the women he’s been hitting on. sees. Compare this to another Hollywood satire from 2008 Thunder in the tropics, starring Robert Downey Jr as Kirk Lazarus, an Aussie method actor so ridiculously committed to full immersion in his roles that he forgets he’s a white man after undergoing “body modification” surgery. pigmentation” so he could play a gruff black sergeant serving in the Vietnam War. Then, after Lazarus has to act in the role, disguising himself as a local Vietnamese, he is suspended by a mental thread, delirious: “I know who I am! I’m the guy who plays the guy who pretends to be the other guy!”
You can browse the list in the same way. Instead of Thunder in the tropicsThe immortal Les Grossman, the hilariously creepy power broker played by an unrecognizable and inspirational Tom Cruise – who admitted he created the character based on the producers he worked with, likely directed by Scott Rudin – The bubble has Kate McKinnon doing barely fun bits like a skit as a smiling, frosty blonde studio executive checking for updates on Zoom from various exotic vacation spots.
There are one or two moments where a line of dialogue works, and an actor jumps on it and makes it pay off. For example, Carol Cobb (Karen Gillan), the already stranded starlet who bailed out on Cliff Beasts 5 and is punished for it by everyone when she comes back for Cliff Beasts 6, collapses in lockdown and gives a moving speech of commiseration with his ailing castmates. She reassures them: “It’s not me who plays!”
Duchovny as Mulray responds fervently, “We know. It seemed real. So it’s a slight laugh.
There are lovely people working hard in small rooms to create something here. Samson Kayo and Guz Khan, both currently appearing in the larky comedy series Taika Waititi Our flag means deathare effortlessly enjoyable whether they have good lines or not, and Maria Bakalova of Borat Next Movie is a welcome presence, too. Unfortunately, there are plenty of unfunny appearances from famous characters like Beck, Benedict Cumberbatch, Rob Delaney, John Lithgow, John Cena, James McAvoy, and Daisy Ridley.
But the main point of morbid fascination about the movie is acknowledging how much we don’t need a comedy about it, which answers Judd Apatow’s original question. Gags about hating nose swab tests? To go crazy during the two-week quarantine period? About making increasingly elaborate TikTok videos (led by the director’s daughter Iris Apatow, playing a social media influencer in her first film role)?
We’re still in the pandemic, but we’re two-year veterans now, and nothing feels quite as dated as the newbie experience presented as fresh material when it’s already spawned ten thousand memes. . The public made it their own comedy, collectively. We don’t need stinky Hollywood types telling us massively obvious things “about isolation and how the world is trying to keep moving on even though everything has changed”.
What’s changed for a Hollywood made man like Judd Apatow, anyway? He continues to write and direct films – good, bad or indifferent – and to include his family members in them. They’re in a bubble, okay, but it’s not a bubble created by a pandemic.