When director Judd Apatow pitched his idea to Netflix for what would become his new movie The Bubble — which hit the streamer on Friday — he originally couched it as a kind of Christopher Guest mockumentary meets Tropic Thunder.
As Netflix’s official summary explains about the finished product, the star-packed comedy Apatow ended up making is about a group of actors and actresses stuck inside a hotel while trying to complete a sequel to an action franchise film about flying dinosaurs. Why are they stuck in their hotel, you ask? Well, seeing as they’re supposed to have been filming their movie in 2020, it’s because they needed to quarantine themselves. Which could have presented tons of pandemic-themed comedic potential, right?
It’s just as likely, though, that most viewers will probably end up feeling like it’s still too soon to be making fun of the public health crisis that we’re still, you know, in the midst of. And not only that, but making fun of all the things we’ve already spent two years talking and complaining about.
The Bubble is now streaming on Netflix
“I heard about the NBA bubble and I thought, well that’s kind of funny,” Apatow said in an interview with Netflix. “All those guys stuck in a hotel. Maybe there’s a play in that or a movie.
“I kept hearing about the bubble the Jurassic Park film had in England, and they were having problems keeping the production going. I thought, ‘Well that’s funny, a bunch of actors stuck in a hotel having a nervous breakdown, trying to accomplish some sort of action movie during the worst of the pandemic.’”
Bubbles and quarantines were certainly novel concepts and all that some people were talking about — two years ago.
All you need to do is look at how much post-Oscars coverage has been generated by The Slap, however, to get a sense of how fascinated Hollywood is with its own navel. Which is to say: Sometimes, movies about making movies are fun. Other times, it’s a swing and a miss.
And unfortunately, based on the early reviews of this one from critics and viewers? It seems like The Bubble falls into the latter category. Which is a shame, because this is not a bad cast by any means. The actors include Karen Gillan, Fred Armisen, David Duchovny, and Keegan-Michael Key.
Rotten Tomatoes reviews
“Overlong and excruciatingly unfunny.”
That’s how one Rotten Tomatoes reviewer described the new movie. Which, we should add, has an abysmal 26 percent critics score on the review site right now. That percentage is based on 54 reviews, a selection of which are below:
- Great cast, just not funny.
- The Bubble feels like the least personal film Apatow has directed so far, a film that seems like more of an excuse to just do something during the pandemic, instead of Apatow having something to say.
- The Bubble is being released after two full years of life during a pandemic; all the observational humor about how uncomfortable swabs are, or how it seems like those in charge of safety mandates are making it up on the fly, have been done to death.
The response from fans is a little better, but only just. The Bubble currently has a 41 percent on Rotten Tomatoes, based on less than 50 ratings so far.
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