The Cobbler Review
What a weird movie.
There is a certain trend we have come to expect with Adam Sandler movies. His films are usually high in the slapstick realm of humor. His films are often raunchy, and there maybe one big scene or perhaps a couple of scenes that are designed specifically to cause a reaction. Those reactions can be shock, disturbed or even wanting your life back. But, by the end of every Sandler movie, he pulls it into a metaphor everybody can relate to and ends his films on a happy note. It can be argued that just about every movie he has been in winds back to this little check list. While I appreciated something like "Funny People," which was absolutely nowhere near Sandler's comfort zone, something about the movie really fell flat to me. I have tried to watch the movie a couple of times and I end up bored somewhere in the middle. I love it when actors take chances, but I felt that wasn't a chance Sandler should have taken.
Now that I have seen "The Cobbler," I wonder if Adam Sandler is a one-trick pony. If he is a trick-pony, I wonder if that is a bad thing, despite not having a big hit in years.
"The Cobbler" definitely feels like vintage Woody Allen at times, definitely something Allen would make. Sandler plays Max, a lonesome shoe cobbler who spends his days wishing he led the life of some of his richer customers. Soon Max realizes if he puts the shoes on at his shop, he can become the people who wear those shoes. As his cobbling business slowly begins to decline he fights to keep his fourth generation shop open while also having fun walking in other people's shoes, literally.
What shocked me is that this is not the typical Adam Sandler movie. There is no slapstick or raunchy comedy anywhere in this movie. At no point does the humor try to play it safe, this is a very offbeat comedy. This is not the type of humor we are accustomed to for Sandler, but overall he does good with it. There were a couple moments where I laughed out loud. I think Adam Sandler gives a good performance here. He makes good use of his fellow cast, which includes Dustin Hoffman, Steve Buscemi, Method Man, Ellen Barkin, Melonie Diaz, and Lynn Cohen, all of whom do superb work as well. More so than in "Funny People," I think Sandler proved he can get past his usual anesthetic and it can work.
My major gripes are more toward the film itself. It never knows what it wants to be. It doesn't know if it wants to be a comedy about a guy who finds he has an usual power and how he experiments with it, or a movie about the poor keeping big, corrupt business out of the streets, or a movie about a guy trying to stop one particular hoodlum or a movie wishing he could be someone else and just not know what to do once he figures out he can. So "The Cobbler" slaps all of those ideas into one movie. The result is something that is funny at times, but ultimately comes off weird. I think the entire segment featuring Method Man could have easily been edited out of the movie entirely. This really is a concept where it is much better to focus on one storyline, rather than trying to tell several and this movie appears sloppy and all-over-the-place.
I also can't stand it when movies push for heartstrings and coincidence for the sake of it. "The Cobbler" definitely suffers from that. When Adam Sandler finds out the identity of his neighboring barber shop owner is, my eyes grew tired from rolling. This is an example of happy getting to forefront then exaggerated completely and none of it works. Especially after Max becomes his father so his mother can have one last dinner with him, this is played up as misplaced emotionality and it rubbed me wrong.
While there was stuff to like, there was just as much stuff that kind of aggravated me, while also some stuff just kind of left me with a question mark. I hope Adam Sandler continues to move out of his comfort zone, but when he does, I just hope the movies he chooses are finally good. Sandler is a great guy, I want him to have another hit.
FINAL GRADE: C