Synopsis - A cobbler stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way.
My Take - For the past few years, just like many 90s A-Lister actors, the quality Adam Sandler movies have been deteriorating. Filled with potty humor or inappropriate jokes or basically the whole premise is based on him & his actor friends on a vacation somewhere! Even though, unlike most people I actually liked his recent Blended (2014), it was comparatively better (I guess). Judging by the trailer of this film, it didn’t seem like a typical Adam Sandler movie, well yes it has it’s jokes but it’s not his typical shtick as some of that is thrown in for good measure, but much lighter. With an interesting premise in hands, as the opening credits rolled in, I was hoping for a nod to his previously well made family flicks like Click (2006) or Bedtime Stories (2008), well it wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t good either. The story follows Max Simkin (Adam Sandler), a cobbler who repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, Max stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way.
Sometimes walking in another man’s shoes is the only way to discover who you really are. Frankly, I have no idea what director Tom McCarthy was going for here. The film starts off as an old-fashioned comedy with some drama thrown in, but it eventually becomes jumbled in a bunch of subplots that involve saving the neighborhood a murder plot involving gangsters & a real estate conspiracy! With a mix of a dramedy, fantasy comedy, and crime thriller that never mash together leading to the film having a major identity crisis. The main reason why the film fails is because of it’s script. As previously mentioned, the film is an uneven mess. McCarthy and Paul Sado are the only writers, but it feels like they had several people write various subplots that were all mashed together. This could have easily been a PG-rated family film if it hadn’t been for brief moments of unnecessary violence that don’t serve any purpose. Aside from the unevenness of the whole film, the writing itself is pretty poor. Some of the dialogue is laughably awful and incredibly forced, most of which comes from Melonie Diaz and Method Man‘s characters. Despite all of it’s missteps, The Cobbler does have a few factors that keep it from being a complete disaster. Sandler himself does a decent job in the lead role. It’s not a particularity memorable one despite going out of his comfort zone, but he fits the role and uses that to his advantage. Despite being wasted, the film does feature a great cast including Steve Buscemi, Dustin Hoffman, and Dan Stevens who while given little to do, are nice to see on screen. Even though the story itself is pretty predictable, I never found myself bored during the film’s run time. I’m not sure if it’s because of how bizarrely awful some of it is, but the strangeness of the whole thing is enough to keep you amused just to see where it will end up next.
Even though I didn’t laugh once throughout the entire film, there are some occasional chuckle worthy moments such as a montage early on of Sandler discovering his new ability. The film does have a lot of heart and it has morality tale spun in for good measure. With that said, none of the dialogue is clever or good. There is a point where it seems like the film could take a route of having a message about the way a community interacts with one another, but nothing ever comes of it resulting in a rather predictable story in which the twist can be solved about halfway through. I found it strange that they chose to show the other actors in the roles of the side characters when Sandler is “in their shoes”. It would have been funnier and much more enjoyable if it had been done the other way around. On the whole, after a long string of bad comedies, The Cobbler seemed like a right direction for Adam Sandler, but thanks to the poor direction & all the above mentioned, the film turns into a cluttered mess of a film. Well yeah this is no Jack & Jill (2011) or That’s My Boy (2012), but just a missed opportunity to use a interesting premise to spin off a potential franchise.
Overall Rating: 4/10
Director - Thomas McCarthy