When Netflix first introduced the trailer for Judd Apatow’s pandemic spoof film The Bubble, I was convinced of having a good time with a film that promised a well-balanced satire on the global situation and the film industry with a huge ensemble and a hoax film Cliff Beasts 6.
With the likes of Karen Gillan, Keegan-Michael Key, Leslie Mann, Pedro Pascal, Fred Armisen, Iris Apatow, David Duchovny, Vir Das, Guz Khan, Maria Bakalova, Peter Serafinowicz and Kate McKinnon, Apatow’s parody was supposed to be a satirical commentary that would include mindless entertainment, ridiculous fun and action amidst the pandemic, highlighting the difficulties of shotting a film in such dire times.
However, instead of being groundbreaking or even mildly enjoyable, it is absolutely difficult to slog through the string of hackneyed jokes, platitudinous physical comedy and a throng of entitled-yet-not-so-amusing characters who make the film a disaster. Completely.
The film is set during the pandemic where Cliff Beasts 6, a clear parody of the Jurassic Park franchise, is currently in production. A fictional franchise, the hoax film is actually way more interesting than The Bubble, even with a completely hare-brained director at the centre. While the film within the film concept could have fared way better, Apatow misses the mark.
In the film, the cast and crew gather in a premium English hotel that is cut off from the rest of the world to create a protective bubble for quarantining the actors. With an abundance of catfights, egotistical actors, bickering couples, drug addicts, flailing relationships, TikTok stars, ridiculous film scripts and more, the shoot goes awry. But the whole process is tediously boring.
Apatow tries hard to parody the whole situation with comedy. Pascal is addicted to substances and constantly asks a hotel staff for sex. Mann and Duchovny argue about parenting their adopted teenager while dealing with the latter’s shameless infidelity. At times, they engage in weird foreplay. Gilla is essentially the main character who tries to highlight the inhuman conditions they have to work in and tries to hinder the shoot. Iris Apatow is a TikToker who has been cast for her relevance. Only Armisen as the filmmaker and the CGI dinosaurs are remotely funny and manage to extricate a few laughs. Others are incredibly boring and their presence is dud.
Apatow tries to fit in too many concepts. Instead of making a simple mockumentary about filmmaking or just focusing on the irony of the entire situation and critiquing the privilege of the actors, the film remains dreadfully uninspiring; even the occasional cameos cannot salvage it, especially a CGI Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange who looks malnourished, high and deranged. The film never stops to question entitlement, instead, they indulge in the same by using too many hyperboles that result in missing fingers, heart attack revivals and an exhausting run.
Apatow wanted to comment on floundering humanity but presented a boring narrative instead. I thought I’d have a good time but The Bubble indeed burst my bubble. You’d be better off watching Cliff Beasts 1-5.