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Bubble Boy

movie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: Bubble Boy

Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Swoosie Kurtz
Director: Blair Hayes
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 84 Minutes
Release Date: August 2001
Genres: Comedy, Romance

*Also starring: Marley Shelton, John Carroll Lynch, Dave Sheridan, Danny Trejo, Verne Troyer, Brian George, Patrick Cranshaw, Fabio

Review by MrBrown
0 stars out of 4

Tinseltown has always been guilty of questionable, for lack of a better term, "creative" decisions. Look no further than the last couple of weeks at the movies for proof: Because no one asked for it, Freddie Prinze Jr. adds yet another to his inexplicable string of starring vehicles; and an inordinate amount of money and valuable energy continues to be expended on the wasteful task of trying to make Penelope Cruz a household name (Memo to producers and Ms. Cruz's publicist: it's _not_ gonna happen). As it turns out, these annoyances were just a warm-up of sorts for the ultimate bafflement, one that will leave the most jaded Hollywood observer with a Prinze-like look of bug-eyed, slack-jawed shock: _Bubble_Boy_.

Watching the trailer or any TV spots for _Bubble_Boy_, it's easy to stare in mouth-agape disbelief. Now, making a comedy that involves a young man stricken with an immune deficiency is not unheard of; after all, one of the most memorable episodes of _Seinfeld_ involved a "bubble boy." The difference with this film, however, is its relentlessly mocking tone. The plot is obviously designed for the audience to sympathize with the innocent Jimmy (Jake Gyllenhaal), who ventures into the outside world for the first time to make a cross-country trek to stop the wedding of the nice girl (Marley Shelton) he loves. But the level of humor pitched by director Blair Hayes and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio runs counter to any such aim; that viewers are supposed to laugh at the wide-eyed Jimmy every time he stumbles and/or bounces in his bubble suit--and that happens a lot--says it all.

Not content to leave worse enough alone, Hayes and the writers apparently decided to pack in as many unfunny and potentially offensive jokes in Jimmy's journey as possible. Jimmy's ultra-conservative Christian mother (Swoosie Kurtz), who is singlehandedly responsible for Jimmy's heretofore extremely sheltered existence, is but one of the insulting caricatures that appear in _Bubble_Boy_. There's also a Latino biker (Danny Trejo) who teaches Jimmy some Spanish terms that he can later butcher for "humorous" effect; a Hindu ice cream/curry salesman (Brian George) who gets all worked up when a cow becomes road kill; and a bar full of Chinese men whose "funny" accents are mocked. Are we laughing yet? If not, there are bits involving a little person (played by Mini Me himself, Verne Troyer) being treated like a baby because of his size. Ha ha ha.

To be fair, _Bubble_Boy_ does boast one laugh. Not so surprisingly, though, it has nothing to do with the writing, directing, or performances. In the midst of a really bizarre subplot (a welcome, if still unfunny, change of pace from the tastelessness evidenced in all the other plot threads) involving a sing-songy cult, there is a brief glimpse of the group's leader, played by... everyone's favorite I Can't Believe It's Not Butter pitchman, Fabio. Perhaps the casting director should take up screenwriting or directing, for that faint glimmer of inspiration is the sole one in the abysmal abomination known as _Bubble_Boy_.

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