The Bubble is a self-indulgent, unfunny mess of a film that continues Apatow’s sharp artistic decline.
Few modern comedies have been as self-indulgent, unfunny, strangely dated, and plainly ill-advised as Judd Apatow’s latest opus, The Bubble. An alleged satire that attempts to mock the idea of self-absorbed celebrity unable to focus on anything meaningful, the film ironically sees its creator dumping an absolute turkey onto a content mill streamer with zero quality control because he could get it made during a pandemic. It’s the ultimate pot/kettle film.
Welcome to the world of Cliff Beasts, an absurd franchise-within-the-film film, now in its sixth installment. The studio that produces this chum is in dire straights due to Covid, and business is failing. They need a hit. The solution: assemble the stars at a remote location, isolate them, monitor them for symptoms, and shoot the whole fucking thing in front of a green screen. The avengers assembled include: Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann, Guardian of the Galaxy’s Karen Gillan, a very puffy David Duchovny, a barely present Pedro Pascal, MVP Keegan Michael-Key, and, oh yeah, also Apatow’s daughter Iris, playing a TikTok influencer shoehorned into both the real and fictional productions here for reasons that both the real and fictional creators probably think is very modern. None of them are playing themselves, strangely, which might at least make this entire premise a little funny or at least lend it the Curb Your Enthusiasm level of absurdity that’s being reached for.
The issue is not that these performers aren’t talented — it’s that Apatow has utterly failed to provide them with any actual material or character to enact. Instead, he’s reverted to his usual Line-o-Rama improv shtick, which has left him with an incredible clutch of scenes in which nothing happens and no narrative is advanced. It’s just a collection of riffs, very few of which merit more than twenty or thirty seconds, much less a movie of over two hours. It’s an uninspired SNL sketch stretched out to feature length; barely a movie.
Worse, the actual logistics of producing a movie of this size seem to have been completely elided. Multiple scenes involve us watching a finished sequence involving completed VFX but including all of the screw-ups and blown takes, which on paper seems like a promising idea but in practice just makes it seem like Apatow doesn’t know how movies get made. That the Cliff Beasts movies sound like a joke a hacky comedian might come up with (“What if dinosaurs AND Fast and Furious?”) is both additionally ironically fitting and also suggests a certain level of dumb snobbery. That’s not to say that the current cultural domination of the MCU, et al needs defending, but those movies at least aren’t quite so incredulously stupid. In the end, The Bubble isn’t much more than a checklist of failures: it doesn’t tell a story, it doesn’t reflect a timely reality, it plays on tired sitcom tropes of celebrity and studio filmmaking, and worst of all — you guessed it — it’s not even fucking funny.
You can currently stream Judd Apatow’s The Bubble on Netflix.