Funnyman Judd Apatow has made a career out of blending humour and honesty, his movies skimming a big bag of dick jokes across the surface of waters that run deep and dark. The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Funny People, This Is 40… all swirl with emotional currents that tug at the viewer long after the waves of laughter subside.
The Bubble is something different. Lighter and sillier, it tracks three tumultuous months in the pandemic-delayed production of Cliff Beasts 6: The Battle for Everest: Memories of a Requiem, a $100m action blockbuster that looks like it belongs on the Syfy channel (why are movies within movies always so dire?).
Taking real-life inspiration from the shooting of Jurassic World: Dominion, which suffered numerous Covid-related delays, Cliff Beasts 6 sees actors Dieter Bravo (Pedro Pascal), Carol Cobb (Karen Gillan), Sean Knox (Keegan-Michael Key) and separated husband and wife Dustin Mulray (David Duchovny) and Lauren Van Chance (Leslie Mann) battle dinosaurs at high altitude… and then, off screen, boredom, horniness and each other as they maintain their bubble within a stately English hotel. Meanwhile, studio head Paula (Kate McKinnon) is forever poking her Pterodactyl-sized beak in via Zoom calls from ski resorts and safaris – she of course jumped the queue to get her vaccine early.
Written by Apatow and Pam Brady (Team America: World Police, Lady Dynamite), The Bubble often feels hastily knocked together despite arriving a year too late, with several smaller productions (Staged, Locked Down, Together) getting their pandemic punches in first. The targets are obvious, from insecure, egocentric actors to TikTok influencers (played by Apatow and Mann’s real-life daughter, Iris Apatow) to a hip young director (Fred Armisen) finding his hands tied on a studio blockbuster. But like Velociraptor Blue in Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, the satire threatens to be vicious but is frequently tame. At 126 minutes, it’s also half an hour too long.
But if you’re in the mood for some throwaway fun, Apatow’s Bubble won’t burst yours. Scenes of actors rehearsing their stunts and action choreography especially amuse – Key’s Knox took Cliff Beasts 6 on the condition he could pilot the chopper, surely a knowing nod given the “Cruise movie” is the only other film in production – and a gallery of cameos keep things interesting.
The Bubble is now on Netflix. For more, check out the best Netflix movies currently streaming.