Cert: 18 | ★★✩✩✩
Karen Gillan (Doctor Who, Guardians of the Galaxy), Leslie Mann (This is 40) and David Duchovny (The X Files) head a stellar cast in this disappointing pandemic-themed meta comedy from writer-director Judd Apatow (Knocked Up, The King of Staten Island) for Netflix. Pedro Pascal, Keegan-Michael Key, Guz Khan and Borat Subsequent Moviefilm sensation Maria Bakalova also star.
Written by Apatow and screenwriter Pam Brady, The Bubble was inspired by the production of the yet-to-be-released Jurassic World Dominion (2022) which was filmed during the pandemic with its actors living together during the shoot. Earlier this year, Netflix released a teaser for Cliff Beasts 6, with the streaming giants later revealing that this was to be the film within the film in The Bubble.
As production gets underway for the latest instalment of the hugely popular Cliff Beasts franchise, leading cast members Carol Cobb (Gillan) and ex-couple Lauren Van Chance and Dustin Mulray (Mann and Duchovny) find themselves holed up in the luxurious Cliveden House Hotel in Berkshire.
Lured in by what the producers promise to be a shoot with a difference, the actors are stuck together inside a Covid-safe bubble and are forbidden from leaving until the shoot is completed.
Mostly known for his relatable, and generally well-received comedies, Apatow here presents an overlong and excruciatingly unfunny film.
As with most pandemic-themed productions we’ve seen so far, The Bubble already feels terribly dated and completely out of touch.
Although the premise of what would happen if a group of self-absorbed, mollycoddled celebrities were forced under one roof could have easily yielded some decent material, Apatow et al sadly fail to raise any laughs throughout. The result is one giant mess held together by a ludicrously outlandish premise and some rather dubious performances.
Fans of Apatow’s brilliantly self-aware sophomoric humour comedies will find very little to enjoy here. Moving from his tried-and-tested formula of stories about puerile, schlubby men and the women who tolerate them, he resorts to unsophisticated slapstick humour and beyond-the-pale toilet gags.
Overall, this messy, muddled and genuinely baffling offering is by no means a vintage Apatow, but everyone is allowed a misfire once in a while.
One only hopes that his next film will once again bring back the relatable characters we’ve all grown to love.