‘The Bubble’ Review: The Difficulties Of Making A Movie During The Pandemic
Making movies is hard. It takes the coordination, passion, and effort of countless individuals in order to pull it off. The worst thing of all is that, even when everybody is working towards the same objective, things can still go wrong just because one element of the whole piece feels slightly or totally off. Movies are a balancing act that is difficult to master, but when that balance is achieved, then there’s nothing more satisfying.
Sadly, not all movies achieve that balance. The Bubble, the new Netflix movie of the week, tackles, with humor and a lot of self-criticisms, what happens when things go wrong and why they go wrong in the first place. The movie achieves this goal partially, and it will deliver laughs and cringe moments in equal quantities.
The Bubble is a film written and directed by Judd Apatow and stars Karen Gillan, Iris Apatow, Fred Armisen, David Duchovny, Keegan Michael-Key, Pedro Pascal, Maria Bakalova, and Leslie Mann. The film tells the story of the shooting of the sixth installment of an incredibly successful movie franchise. And how the actors, crew, and executives lose control of the production thanks to their own egos and the fact that they are shooting during the pandemic, changing the dynamic of how movies are made.
The movie’s title, “The Bubble,” refers both to the bubble of isolation where the actors live together without any other external contact in order to not get infected with the Covid-19 virus. Also, the bubble in which they live, which causes them to be selfish and out of touch.
The Bubble really goes hard on how celebrity culture has changed in the last five years. Movie stars are dead, streaming is king, theaters are closing, and fame is not something unique to movie or TV stars; anyone with a microphone and a camera can become famous. So, with all these factors becoming more common and less unique, many people have realized that celebrities are just not that special, and those that think they are, well, they are perceived as just not nice people.
The Bubble arrives perfectly after the events that occurred during the Oscars 2022, and it is the perfect show of how Hollywood itself knows that the mystique that made them special is quickly slipping away. Of course, we’re talking about a movie where the director puts her daughter in a starring role, but hey! At least Apatow and his family are not trying to hide the fact that they are indeed making this whole thing a family business.
OK, so that is the message. It is clear as water, but how does the movie hold up as a piece of entertainment? Well, the answer will depend, of course, from the perspective of each member of the audience, especially when comedy is such a subjective form of art. From my point of view, the movie is a mixed bag of funny gags, commentaries on Hollywood and some interesting looks at the inside of a Hollywood production, all within the confines of a comedy.
However, not all the jokes land, and the ones that land flat are just cringe material of the highest order. The film attempts to be part comedy, part drama, and to deliver a conscious message about celebrities. This scattered focus doesn’t work well as the movie goes on, maybe a bit too much. Two full hours of this seems indulgent, but this has been a problem with Apatow films for a long time, and he doesn’t seem to be ready to correct it.
While the cast is filled with tons of well-known actors, only Gillan comes across as a complete character. The rest of the cast are there for what could be considered long cameos; they have no character arcs or big payoffs for their storylines. It feels weird to have such huge names and not give them the proper spotlight. Apatow’s own daughter, Iris, comes off really well, playing the role of a shallow TikToker. Let’s hope Iris has as much talent as her sister Maude, who has been killing it lately in HBO’s Euphoria.
Visually, the movie is all over the place. At the moment, it plays out as a typical pandemic film, shot in interiors with no windows, and other times it plays out in the location of a fantastic mansion. The film also splits heavy CGI sequences of the movie within the movie, and it makes for some funny gags. The movie within the movie is so bad that it makes you wonder how the series became such a big success in the first place, within the movie’s universe.
In the end, The Bubble might be biting more than it can chew and ends up being a messy comedy with some fun moments, but not enough focus on the character or story to make it feel meaningful in any way. There are worse Netflix movies out there, but that doesn’t make The Bubble anything more than something watchable.