Netflix review: Apatow's pandemic-set 'The Bubble' tries hard to be funny

Fred Hawson

Posted at Apr 05 2022 01:59 PM

A scene from 'The Bubble'
A scene from 'The Bubble'

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the sixth installment of the popular "Cliff Beasts" film franchise, subtitled "Battle for Everest: Memories of a Requiem," was being shot in a "bubble" as the cast and crew were confined in a luxurious hotel in England. The director was indie filmmaker Darren Eigan (Fred Armisen), while the executive producer was Gavin (Peter Serafinowicz) who had to answer to ruthless studio executive Paula (Kate McKinnon). 

All the former actors were gathered for this sequel, including lead actor Dustin Mulray (David Duchovny), his ex-wife Lauren van Chance (Leslie Mann), inspirational author Sean Knox (Keegan-Michael Key), and Carol Cobb (Karen Gillan) who was making a comeback to the series after opting out of the fifth installment. The two new cast members were Oscar-winning actor Dieter Bravo (Pablo Pascal) and viral Tiktok sensation Krystal Kris (Iris Apatow). 

Judd Apatow is most known for comedies he wrote and directed like "The 40-Year Old Virgin" (2005), "Knocked Up" (2007) and most recently "The King of Staten Island" (2020). This latest one is a satire that poked fun at neurotic movie people observing the elaborate COVID-19 precautions at the height of the pandemic. The story was inspired by the real-life bubble situation under which "Jurassic World 3: World Dominion" was shot last year. 

The heavy-handed, dark, raunchy, drug-laced and even violent comedy can be hard to bear as it ran for a rather lengthy 126 minutes. Apatow gathered a dizzying cast of 20+ actors who had no qualms portraying exaggerated parodies of stereotypical showbiz tropes, the film crew who had to deal with their annoying diva behavior and the hotel employees who had to serve them hand and foot. The humor is mostly flat and tiresome, trying too hard to be funny.

There behind-the-scenes with the mo-cap guys standing in for the flying dinosaur monsters were funny, but even these felt repetitive soon enough. The TikTok dance number at the beginning was funny, but they did not really need to repeat it again towards the end. 

To salvage some smiles, there were celebrity cameos to perk up the mood, including Beck, Benedict Cumberbatch, Daisy Ridley, John Cena and John McAvoy. 

This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."