Title: The Cobbler
RLJE / Image Entertainment
Director: Tom McCarthy
Writer: Tom McCarthy, Paul Sado
Cast: Adam Sandler, Steve Buscemi, Dustin Hoffman , Method Man, Ellen Barkin, Dascha Polanco , Dan Stevens, Melonie Diaz,
Running time: 1hr 38 min, Rated PG-13 (Language, Violence, Partial Nudity)
In Theaters March 13th
Max Simkin (Adam Sandler) is a Brooklyn based cobbler – a shoe repairman that’s been in the business for several generations. He has been holding the fort in his tiny hole in the wall shop for decades since his father suddenly walked away from it all. His only friend is one that he’s known for years, Jimmy (Steve Buscemi) who runs the barbershop next door and whom acts as a father figure. One day, a baller thug named Ludlow (Method Man) walks into his shop demanding a shoeshine. He drops off some alligator loafers telling him he wants them repaired that day and he would pick them up at closing. Rushing to fill the order, his stitcher burns out and he goes into the basement to find some old equipment he can use in a pinch. He finds an antique manual stitcher that will do the job. He finishes the shoes and waits for Mr. Ludlow…and waits. With nothing to do in his empty shop, he decides to try on the expensive pair of 10.5 shoes. He looks up into the mirror and is shocked to see he looks just like Ludlow. He soon discovers it’s the machine that’s enchanted by some sort of magic, and goes to work on other pairs of shoes in the shop. With each pair, he can look like the owner and do anything he wants to do – steal a car, dine and dash, walk around in other diverse cultures unnoticed. He uses the power of the stitcher for his ailing mother who just wants to have dinner with her husband Abraham (Dustin Hoffman) one last time. He fulfills his mother’s wish only to find it was the only thing keeping her going was her pining for his father. Now his relatives are telling Max that he needs money to buy his mother a fancy headstone. Meanwhile a nasty developer (Ellen Barkin) is trying to buy up the neighborhood to build expensive housing. Wanting to do good for his mother and the poor people of the neighborhood who are being driven out, he uses the magic stitcher for good and ties it all together with the truth of his father’s disappearance.
The Good: It’s not your typical Adam Sandler comedy. It’s a fantastical dark comedy. Let me reiterate, it’s not the Adam Sandler film you’re used to. If you liked Punch Drunk Love, this leans more to that edge of the Adam Sandler spectrum.
The Bad: The pacing was very slow. I found myself getting a little antsy and wanted to look at my phone. The use of pickles as a preservative was an eye-roller. Were the filmmakers in kahoots with some pickle companies to help boost sales? There needs to be a drinking game on how many times someone says the name Max. They were throwing that around like it was the f-word. Once Max finds out what he can do with the stitcher, it turns into a game of how racially offensive can one get away with in one film. All the crimes he commits is when he looks like a black man/kid, transgender, etc. He almost rapes a woman while looking like her boyfriend. Egads, is this supposed to be a comedy?! Max is a very asexual character. I just didn’t buy him ever being in a romantic relationship. The pseudo love interest with activist Carmen (Melonie Diaz) had zero chemistry.
I was expecting a lot more from director Tom McCarthy whom directed the fantastic indies The Station Agent and Win Win. I get that he was maybe wanting to go out of his comfort zone, but the story just wasn’t there or worth his talent.
Total Rating: C
Reviewed by: JM Willis