In the early 2000s the name Judd Apatow was synonymous with the the word comedy. Bringing hits to theaters such as The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up. Over the past decade we’ve gotten comedies like Trainwreck, This is 40, and Trainwreck. In 2020 a hidden gem was released called The King of Staten Island which worked as a strong character piece starring SNL’s Pete Davidson. All of this to say, Judd Apatow is one of the greats when it comes to the comedy genre. Mixing in heart and a hint of drama into each of his projects.
The Bubble, however, falls apart about as quickly as it takes for a bubble to pop.
Set during the COVID-19 pandemic, a production team is tasked with filming a B level Sci-Fi flick while also navigating the rough waters of the pandemic.
Apatow has assembled quite possibly one of his largest casts to date here including Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, Leslie Mann, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Fred Armisen, Maria Baklava, and several others. Each of the actors mentioned above plays an eccentric and whacky character. Gillan playing the most grounded of the crew as an actress there to get a paycheck.
It’s noticeable that the cast is having a lot of fun creating this pandemic comedy but not long after the story gets going and the group dynamic is established, each scene quickly feels like everyone is fighting to be the funniest or the stand out. Some will look at this as a testament to the wide range of talent we are seeing onscreen. But it quickly gets old when any serious elements of the story are set aside so that everyone can get their jokes in before the scene ends. I’d be remised if I didn’t mention the whacky performance given by Pedro Pascal. Proving he has the comedic timing and can certainly hold his own against the other actors that are well versed in the genre.
As far as the script for The Bubble goes, it doesn’t take long for the story to crumble. Over the past year, the rollout of projects centering around the pandemic has begun. Ranging from comedies to thrillers. After hearing about the virus on a daily basis for over two years now, you’d be forgiven if you didn’t want to jump into a 2 hour film that takes you back to the early days of COVID. From the uncertainty of what’s happening to the uneventful days of quarantine. SNL sketches (more on that shortly) and movies have tried to make jokes about quarantine and the craziness of COVID. From testing to the struggles of being exposed. There were a few moments that got a chuckle out of me but beyond that, the large majority of the humor this movie relies on, doesn’t work.
As I mentioned, this film clocks in at just over two hours. Stretching an 80-90 minute movie far beyond its limits. After the majority of the exposition is behind us, the remainder of the duration is what can best be described as a compilation of wannabe SNL sketches interwoven with TikTok dances that do nothing for the narrative except make you question what you’re watching and how much longer you have left in the movie. Interesting and unique ideas are almost impossible to come by. When the comedic scenes aren’t leaning on the whole chaos of COVID, we have to sit through recycled sexual jokes and banter that feels empty. What should be an enjoyable piece of escapism (sort of) turn into a tedious chore.
Verdict: ‘The Bubble’ packs a talented cast into what feels like a two hour compilation of wannabe SNL sketches. The pandemic related comedy (which the movie relies on) feels tired and forced. Also thrown in are a handful of cameos and TikTok dances that do nothing but cause the runtime to wear on.