2001 - PG-13 - 104 Mins.
|Director: Blair Hayes|
|Producer: Beau Flynn|
|Written By: Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio|
|Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Swoosie Kurtz, Marley Shelton |
|Review by: Harrison Cheung
The second biggest bomb of 2001 after FREDDY GOT FINGERED, the warped comedy, BUBBLE BOY, is worth a look on video.
What do I do if I fart in here?
Surprise - this zany comedy comes from super-conservative Disney! The story? A boy born without immunities has lived in a plastic bubble all his life. His hyper-protective mother is happy to keep him sheltered in their clean, colorful bungalow trapped in LEAVE IT TO BEAVER mode. But one day, Jimmy Livingston, played by the talented Jake Gyllenhaal (DONNIE DARKO), falls in love with the girl next door, Chloe (Marley Shelton). Unfortunately, Chloe is heading off to Niagara Falls to marry a sleazeball replete with mullet. So Jimmy decides to build a bubble suit and make his way across the country to declare his love.
BUBBLE BOY was doomed before it was released thanks to some very bad press from angry parents of kids born without immunities. The parents over-reacted, concerned that the movie was going to tease children and belittle their disease. In fact, BUBBLE BOY is a modern fairy tale
where the bubble suit is a metaphor about Jimmy being over-protected and living a clearly sheltered life.
Along his journey to Niagara Falls, Jimmy meets a strange variety of characters - a cult, a biker, a Chinese mud-wrestling emcee, and a Hindu ice cream vendor - as if Dorothy landed in an Oz on acid. On the surface, the humor seems designed to offend every minority it comes across but it works the same way a good comedy should work - BUBBLE BOY appeals on the gross-out level as well as the gray cell level.
Is BUBBLE BOY a great movie? Director Blair Hayes is no Tim Burton but the film does bear a resemblance to PEE WEE HERMAN'S BIG ADVENTURE where a manchild has to grow quickly to be free of his stifling environment. Hayes lacks Tim Burton's panache and cohesion - at times, you can see BUBBLE BOY's seams. It even has that oompah/Wizard of Oz/Danny Elfman soundtrack. The humor is shockingly pointed about stereotypes - Jimmy's mom would be an easy match for Archie Bunker. That kind of wicked humor adds to BUBBLE BOY's entertainment value to amuse the kiddies and outrage the adults with some very grown-up ideas about prejudice. Gyllenhaal, who looks disturbingly like K.D. Lang in this movie, has great comic timing and he has great fun with his huge, expressive eyes. No surprise that BUBBLE BOY has now become a hit on video thanks to Gyllenhaal's large Internet fan base.
Superb performances from Gyllenhaal and a wacky over-bearing mom played by Swoozie Kurtz makes BUBBLE BOY a surprisingly gentle comedy that's more like a majorly warped PRINCESS BRIDE rather than a Farrelly brothers flicks - especially with those dreadful trailers! Shelton, who looks like a young Heather Graham, manages to be a very modern heroine in a slight role.
If you want something funny and lite to watch and you're in Pee Wee Herman withdrawal, give BUBBLE BOY a try. The humor is pointed but it forces people to laugh a themselves. And oddly enough, of all the nasty reviews from middle America, BUBBLE BOY scored great reviews from the LA Times and the NY Times.