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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 Steve Rhodes
3 stars out of 4

In Blair Hayes's BUBBLE BOY, Chloe would sure like to burst Jimmy Livingston's bubble. She's the blonde bombshell next door, and Jimmy is a kid with a Mixmaster haircut. Born without an immune system, Jimmy is forced to live inside a bubble in this film inspired by THE BOY IN THE PLASTIC BUBBLE with John Travolta. This time Jake Gyllenhaal, the star of OCTOBER SKY, is wonderful as Jimmy, and Marley Shelton, Tobey Maguire's girlfriend from PLEASANTVILLE, is equally charming as Chloe.

Yes, I know. By now, you've read all of the politically correct reviews that warn you against this film. Well, I'm here to tell that this equal opportunity profaner -- it skewers Christians, cultists, bikers, Republicans, circus freaks, and numerous other religions and groups -- is the most underrated film of the year. While it's not a great film by any stretch of the imagination, it is a comedy that had me laughing hard and often. This Disney film is a lot funnier than most of the recent offerings by more famous filmmakers like the Farrelly Brothers (OSMOSIS JONES and ME, MYSELF AND IRENE).

Swoosie Kurtz does a nice turn as Mrs. Livingston, Jimmy's ultra religious mother who likes the way that Jimmy's bubble keeps him separated from the world's filth. She doesn't think much of Chloe, calling her a whore. Chloe, however, insists that she's actually just a bitch. In reality, she is a virgin, who is neither bitch nor whore. She is also almost a dead ringer for Heather Graham, who might have trouble playing a credible virgin.

When Jimmy goes missing -- most of the movie is a road trip as Jimmy goes to stop Chloe's wedding near Niagara Falls -- Mrs. Livingston gives the police a piece of her mind. "You'll be in my prayers tonight," she assures the policeman on the phone when he refuses to take a missing person report until Jimmy has been gone for 48 hours. "I'll be praying that you get nut cancer."

Not all of the jokes are sexual or bathroom humor. One of my favorites is a sort of a takeoff on the line from TOOTSIE about how far the camera needed to pull back to properly shoot Tootsie. Jimmy, who has never been out of the house, tries to use a few coins to pay for his bus trip to Niagara Falls. "How far will this get me," Jimmy asks a taciturn bus depot agent, played with hilarious and sarcastic deadpan by Zach Galifianakis. "Take a step back," the agent says dryly, "that far."

One of the film's best laughs outdoes the now famous crazy glue scene from AMERICAN PIE 2. When Jimmy is scared and shocked by his first erection, he doesn't know what to do. Not having a readily available cold shower inside his bubble, he uses a baseball bat instead. Ouch!

Like RAT RACE, the movie it most resembles, the jokes come fast and furiously. I haven't had time to tell you about many other parts, including the cult group called Bright and Shiny who gets in a rumble with a group of bikers lead by Danny Trejo and circus freaks controlled by Dr. Phreak (Verne Troyer, best known as Mini-Me). This surprisingly sweet comedy manages to take on all of society's sacred cows without really being offensive if people will just approach it with an open mind. On the other hand, if you already take exception to it and haven't even seen it yet, then it probably isn't the picture for you.

BUBBLE BOY runs a fast 1:24. It is rated PG-13 for "language and crude sexual humor" and would be acceptable for kids around 10 and up.

My son Jeffrey, age 12, who laughed some in the movie but not a lot, gave it **. He said that it was "okay, not the greatest and not the worst."

Copyright 2001 Steve Rhodes

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