The Bubble (2022) review – a misfire for Apatow

By Marc Miller
Published: April 1, 2022
Netflix film The Bubble (2022)


The Bubble is a big misfire from Apatow.

This review of the Netflix film The Bubble (2022) does not contain spoilers.

Judd Apatow tried something different in his first-ever Netflix comedy. The man who created a signature comedy style of films full of unfiltered, flawed characters took a risk that failed miserably with his new film, The Bubble. Unfortunately, he remains fearless, his comedies going over 120 minutes long. His latest comedy is a mess of tone, themes, shots, and poorly edited jokes that fall flat. In other words, what happens in the bubble should have stayed there.

The Bubble tells the story of some brave actors bringing entertainment to a world stuck in their homes. The man in charge of that responsibility is Gavin (Peter Serafinowicz). He is producing Cliff Beasts 6, a Sharknado movie franchise that does not age well. He brings back Carol Cobb (Karen Gillan), a neurotic actress who needs another film under her belt. If not, her career is over.

Carol skipped the fifth installment, and her fellow castmates include Lauren (Leslie Mann), Dieter (Pedro Pascal), Dustin (David Duchovny), and the action star of the film, Sean (Keegan-Michael Key). To make matters worse, Carol’s best lines are given away to a new rising TikTok star. Her name is Krystal (Iris Apatow), and she thinks Carol is old because she saw a picture of her at a Nirvana concert. There, trouble (and fun?) ensues from that point. The mix of unhinged and arrogant stars struggle to finish the movie under trying circumstances.

Directed by Apatow and co-written with Pam Brady (The Loop, Hot Rod), The Bubble is too heavily invested in insider winks at Hollywood for even a meta-comedy. So much so, the jokes come across as less grounded and more in the know, then abruptly turn the corner into a wall of absurdity. Even if the humor aims at the characters’ inflated importance of their work, the script still pokes fun at working-class people, like waitresses, for their reputation in serving food to people during a pandemic. This is strange considering what they are attempting on satirizing. 

The Bubble does some things well. And that is besides being able to cast an astonishing amount of high-profile cameos. (That includes Daisy Ridley, James McAvoy, and Benedict Cumberbatch). Gillian is an underused and versatile actress who more than proves her own here. For me, Duchovny has a dry delivery for comedy that has never been appreciated. The real star here who fairs the best is Serafinowicz. His character’s cynical view of actors is the closest thing to being empathetic in a film filled with apathy.

Apatow tried to go for an all-out comedy with themes about big corporate media that will go to any length to increase revenue or band-aid losses by any means necessary. The problem here is that the film does not fully commit to that type of dark comedy that would have made it work. But, perhaps, most importantly, the movie just is not that funny. When you combine these issues by saddling the viewer with characters we do not like or care about, there is not much to enjoy here. 

The Bubble should have stayed in quarantine.

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