March 16, 2015
Max Simkin is a shoe repairman in New York City, the latest of many generations of cobblers in his family. Aside from their old shop, he also had an old shoe stitching machine that had been handed down from his father and his grandfathers before him. One day, Max discovered that this family heirloom had magic that enabled him to be transformed into any other man who owned the shoes. After having some goofy fun with his new powers, Max decided that he could do something good with his ability.
This is a film starring Adam Sandler. But this is not a typical Adam Sandler film. Sandler has been on a prolonged slump in his comedy career in recent years with clunkers like "Jack and Jill" and "Grown Ups 2". This movie is not really what he needed to recover, but he did it anyway. "The Cobbler" is not a slapstick comedy like those that made Sandler famous, like "Happy Gilmore" or "Billy Madison". It is also not one of those romantic comedies that were a hit at the box-office for him, like "The Wedding Singer" or "50 First Dates." These hits were more than 10 years ago.
In fact, it is hard to identify what kind of film "The Cobbler" really is. It starts as a family drama, then it was a fantasy, then a crime action drama, then a light romance, then a social drama. In fact there is no comedy worth talking about. The attempts at humor were pathetic and even disturbing. all of them falling desperately flat. The fantasy angle was interesting with so much potential. However, I felt it was wasted on shallow situations. The best part of this film is the family drama angle. Those touching scenes with Max's mother and father were very well-done.
"The Cobbler" could have been a fascinating film, but unfortunately, the execution was spotty and boring. I don't think it was Adam Sandler's fault this time. Writer-Director Thomas McCarthy made Max do some really odd things that did not seem to be consistent with his character's personality -- an introverted loner who lived with his mother. The side tracks to violent and sexual situations were misguided. The plotting was rather messy with all the various characters Max was changing into, but I did not really care to figure out all the holes. I enjoyed the supporting performances by Dustin Hoffman and Steve Buscemi, but I wished they had more screen time. Overall, this was an uneven film experience that could have been better. 4/10.