“The Bubble” Review

posted April 20, 2022 in CommRadio, Arts & Entertainment by Sophia D'Ovidio

On April 1, Netflix released the newest Judd Apatow movie, “The Bubble.”

This movie follows the production of the new addition to the “Cliff Beasts” movie franchise. The cast and crew are working through filming a big-budget action movie during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The plan is to have the cast/crew live together in a luxury hotel to limit exposure in response to the pandemic.

It’s an incredibly meta plot considering “The Bubble” was filmed during the pandemic. This movie is essentially a satire of the movie industry and its response to the pandemic.

Between quarantining, having special effects and stunts with a reduced crew, the dramatics of actors and the pressure to make a movie when the future of movie theaters is in question, chaos naturally ensues.

Along with Apatow writing and directing this comedy, he had a huge ensemble of notable names to help make this film.

This ensemble included; Karen Gillan, Iris Apatow, Pedro Pascal, Leslie Mann, Fred Armisen, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon, Guz Khan, Peter Serafinowicz, Maria Bakalova and more.

So, between one of the most successful comedic filmmakers and a neverending cast of talent, The Bubble, on paper, should be an utter success.

Against all odds, The Bubble falls short in many aspects, proving the theory that sometimes too much of a good thing is bad.

This theory can sum up the majority of issues with The Bubble.

First, the movie is simply too long. With a two-hour and ten-minute run time, The Bubble doesn’t have the plot to warrant its length. If it were shortened by a good 30 minutes, this movie would be a much more enjoyable watch.

While most directors would kill for a cast of this talent level, it often feels like a curse rather than a blessing. Instead of having a stacked cast that elevates the script, the plot makes this movie feel stuffed with celebrities instead.

There are so many things going on at the same time that it’s hard to keep up. All of the actors give solid performances, but sometimes the comedy falls flat due to the context not being clear.

The Bubble is obviously a satire pointing fun at actors, directors and the movie/entertainment industry as a whole. However, due to the majority of the ensemble being made up of characters that are supposed to be unlikeable, the movie loses its audience.

Movies can be successful with a “bad person” as the main character as long as they’re sympathetic. The issue is that it’s tough to sympathize with any of these prominent ensemble members.

Gillan's character, Carol, is the closest the movie gets to a “main character.” She is the one to point out the absurdities of filming and does get knocked down throughout the movie, but the premise of the film makes it challenging to sympathize with her.

It might’ve been a better move to focus The Bubble on a “normal” person who has to deal with the antics of the actors. It would’ve allowed this concept to be a much more compelling movie.

It’s really unlike Apatow to lack a solid main character. Considering he’s best known for movies like “The 40-Year Old Virgin” or, more recently, “The King of Staten Island.”

Having a strong sympathetic main character doesn’t only aid the plot but also helps elevate the ensemble's comedy.

Due to this issue, many of the cast members feel underused.

Bakalova was a breakout star of the “Borat Subsequent Moviefilm,” garnering critical acclaim for her brilliant comedic ability in the film. However, in The Bubble, Bakalova is reduced to a love interest with a couple of one-liners.

Armisen is universally known to be effortlessly funny, especially for the obscure. He likely gave the best comedic performance in this film which could be expected. Despite this, even a comedy legend like Armisen feels lost amid this plot.

While some comedic moments fall short, some scenes are absolutely funny. Especially the scenes that are genuinely making fun of the ignorance of celebrities.

There are also good moments of slapstick comedy. There is an authentic goofiness that makes the movie much more bearable to watch. It is clear the cast had fun making this movie.

Unfortunately, these moments get overshadowed by scenes that feel like they were added solely to go viral.

For example, Iris Apatow’s influencer character getting the entire cast/crew to join in a TikTok dance reeked of pandering to the younger generations.

This sequence was way too long, but it’s also painfully apparent that no one writing that scene knew what things were trending on TikTok.

It’s moments like that where many of the movie's jokes feel confusing.

Was this TikTok sequence added in The Bubble to make fun of movie studios desperately trying to capture the attention of a generation that seemingly cares less about movies by the minute? Or was The Bubble just cashing out on the same thing.

The fact that there is this uncertainty renders the intentions of the scenes obsolete. It’s a clear example of Poe’s law: without a clear indicator of the author’s intent, every parody can be viewed as a sincere expression of what is being parodied.

If The Bubble really wanted to go in on the monsters that are Hollywood actors, the movie would’ve been centered around the crew having to deal with the terrors of actors.

Due to so much of the satire being a commentary on the insensitivity of the rich and famous but the movie simultaneously demanding the audience to root for the actors for the sake of the plot, the criticism is somewhat gratuitous.

Conceptually, The Bubble could’ve been great. On paper, the movie should’ve been enjoyable.

The Bubble has good moments, but the A-List actors are ineffective in saving the movie from its scattered plot, massive ensemble and insincere social commentary.

Rating: 2/5

Sophia D’Ovidio is a first-year majoring in communications. To contact her, email sgd5184@psu.edu.