The Bubble (2022) Movie Review: A Directionless, Muddled Parody

“…humanity needs a great new distraction…but definitely not this one”

We have all become familiar with the term “bubble” in the last two years. The bio-secure spaces have become safe havens during the pandemic but for Judd Apatow’s fictional movie crew, it becomes a breathing nightmare. And in extension, for the audiences as well.

‘The Bubble’ is about a movie being shot during the peak of the pandemic. The cast and crew stay at a posh hotel. As the world rages in the war with the invisible virus, the team of mega-successful film franchise Cliff Beasts reunites to provide humanity the “perfect distraction”.

The production quickly runs into problems and becomes a wretched and chaotic mess. What follows is The Bubble in a nutshell. Apatow is an industry stalwart. His previous works in the genre have been some of the most brilliant and thoughtful pieces about human emotion in recent times. He ventures a bit out of his comfort zone but fails miserably.

A litany of stars adorns the film. Apatow regular Leslie Mann is joined by established comics like Keegan Key, Pedro Pascal, and Fred Armisen. The names flow off the bat to provide enough potential star power to The Bubble but the execution is so far off that it never seems like redeeming itself halfway in.

Minute after minute, audiences are forced to witness debacles of the highest order. The buffoonery becomes so extreme and unintelligible – let alone enjoyable. It becomes more like an episode of an Indian soap opera, the only difference being that all of this happens to each other’s faces, in the open.

The past is full of some great examples of how to do parodies right. The genre is a hard one to innovate with and add value to, but it has been done before. ‘Tropic Thunder’ comes to mind as one of the apotheoses of film parodies. This is the End, Airplane, Holmes & Watson, and Johnny English also strike a cherished chord. The similarities with The Bubble are too many for comparison. So where does it all go wrong?

All the films mentioned above had a method to their chaos. Even while spoofing other movies, parodies must maintain the semblance of a timeline. The narrative cannot wholly consist of references to previous films and nonsensically make fun of them.

The Bubble is directionless for most parts. ‘Cliff Beasts 6’ does not have any significance in the scheme of the film. Apatow’s plan to use the context of the pandemic to bring out the plight of going through endless quarantines, invasive diagnostic tests, and the excruciating social disconnect works well initially. The early promise starts fading away though as Apatow runs out of material. The film becomes so bad at a point in time that a cast member, Howie Frangapolous (Guz Khan), literally runs away from the set.

Writers looked severely short of ideas. There remain only fleeting moments of genius that are buried under the enormous pressure of carrying the weight of the uninspired plot and story. The tonal changes to represent the widespread mental issues faced by people because of the pandemic come a little too late too, with patow’s universe more about human monstrosity than small-winged, large-bodied dinosaurs and an apocalyptic world. But, the movie is an ugly one that is barely watchable.

The Bubble does not stand up to the repute of its stars and prodigal creator. Its baffling mediocrity is hard to shrug off after you have finished. The meta element is so overused – abused, rather – that any more throwbacks to films, genres, or film stars become suffocating. The world has come to expect more from these artists.

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  • Verdict - 4.5/10

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