The Bubble Review | Movie

At the height of the pandemic, the cast and crew of the dinosaur sequel epic “Cliff Beasts 6,” led by returning star Carol Cobb (Karen Gillan), are forced into quarantine in a English country hotel before filming. But as coronavirus restrictions take their toll, production descends into chaos.

The bubble is a strange concoction. It’s, in part, a satire on a movie that hasn’t even been released yet: co-writers Judd Apatow and Pam Brady drew inspiration from the production of Jurassic World Dominionwhich was the first major film to return to work after the initial Covid lockdown in 2020. While not quite a direct parody, the sixth Jurassic the film receives a few nods, via The bubble‘s movie-within-a-movie, ‘Cliff Beasts 6’. (Leslie Mann even shares Bryce Dallas Howard’s red bob.)

For writer-director Judd Apatow, this is an unexpected departure: after years of swimming in the comedy-drama pool, making funny films with emotional and serious stakes such as The 40 year old virgin Where The King of Staten Island – he’s gone for something downright sillier here, a tone and plot akin to Thunder in the tropics. Constituting an eccentric set of egocentrics, Apatow imagines a Revelation nowdisastrous large-scale production, where everything that could go wrong really does go wrong – with the added element of swabs being pushed up your nose.

The bubble plays almost like a comedy vignette series, and like any sketch show, it can be random.

With only a loose narrative, The bubble plays almost like a comedy vignette series, and like any sketch show, it can be random. Spoofed movie scenes, for example, aren’t as funny as everyone seems to think; ‘Cliff Beasts 6’, if it ever existed, would Bedroom bad levels. The fake actors don’t so much chew up the set as they swallow it whole, adopting hammered accents that even Jared Leto would doubt. A dinosaur doing a TikTok dance, meanwhile, is enough to break anyone’s suspension of disbelief.

The comedy finds a better grip when you have a sense of the overall dynamic, and the actors can bounce off each other. In a UK line-up, it’s the home team that most consistently bring the goods: Karen Gillan, as the nominal lead in real and fake film, lends flashes of Amy Pond to her Carol Cobb; Guz Khan from BBC Three Man like Mobeen fame, steals the show with his contagious, wild energy (choice line: “Suck your mom!”); while comedy duo Ben Ashenden and Alexander Owen – whose Zoom-based comedy made them social media heroes at the height of the pandemic – make game-winning cameos as the endlessly emasculated mo-cap dinosaurs double down.

Like many of Apatow’s films, it has a dispersive quality that could have benefited from tighter editing; no comedy film should last more than two hours. But there’s a cathartic delight in poking fun at an experience we’ve all collectively had in one way or another, and as a three-decade veteran of the industry, Apatow doesn’t gleefully fire into biting the Hollywood hand that feeds. This, we’re told in the title cards, is the story of those who “heroically fought to bring distractions to mankind” – which puts everything into perfect context.

Judd Apatow’s broadest film to date is an uneven collection of Covid-themed comedies – but a talented cast of performers means you’re never too far from your next laugh.