The ever-reliable writer-director Judd Apatow delivers his first true turd with The Bubble, a silly commentary on pandemic-era Hollywood in which very few jokes land—which is surprising, considering the talent involved.
Leslie Mann, Karen Gillan, David Duchovny, Pedro Pascal, Iris Apatow and Fred Armisen head a super-talented group given very little to do. The premise: The cast of a dinosaur-adventure film franchise is trying to complete one of many sequels, living in a “bubble” where they must comply with COVID-19 regulations as they try to film.
Besides the occasional swab scene and a couple of almost-funny montages of celebrities stuck in their hotel rooms, the COVID premise mines almost no laughs. Instead, the script has a lot of jokes about filming in front of green screens, vomit, sex addicts and other topics that don’t really touch upon the comedy of isolation.
The script, co-written by Apatow, required more depth; the writers missed an opportunity to take some true and honest slaps at the film industry. It seems as if the movie started off as satire, but it degraded into a dumb spoof as it went through the production process.
The film produces three or four genuine laughs, primarily from Pascal as a basket-case celebrity who thinks he has fallen in love with a hotel concierge (Maria Bakalova). Duchovny has a few droll line deliveries that work, and Armisen has some decent moments as the ditzy director. Gillan, Mann and Iris Apatow are basically wasted.
It’s too bad, especially given the promising premise and a usually solid director. The Bubble feels scared of itself—and resorts to fake vomit for laughs. Yawn.
The Bubble is now streaming on Netflix.