Adam Sandler stars in a fantasy film about a cobbler named Max Simkin who discovers a magical family heirloom stitching machine in the basement which allows him to change into other people when he puts on their shoes.
It’s a promising idea but old fashioned notions surface and are completely out of whack with the understanding that should come when walking another person’s path.
Struggling small businesses and gentrification were themes Michel Gondry’s manic and bizarre Be Kind, Rewind tackled back in 2008, and it’s something The Cobbler attempts too. Melonie Diaz (who also strangely connects the two films) appears as an activist who is trying to drum up support and protest against new developments in order to save her community.
But a strange departure into slapstick renders any genuine sentiment null and void and the balance between comedy and drama is just never properly gaged.
Steve Buscemi appears as a barber who keeps a close eye on Simkin, advising him on his waning love life and career. And Dustin Hoffmann appears briefly, playing the absent father. Touching upon the father-son relationship should grant some respite but there’s so much other crap to contend with it sadly gets lost.
The Cobbler attempts to rinse humour out of old hat by laughing at gross stereotypes and it’s simply not funny at all. In addition to that a scene where Simkin spies on a woman in the shower in order to woo her while pretending to be someone else is just plain creepy.
Simkin turns into a gangster (Method Man) and a trans person amongst others but instead of learning anything insightful about these people they are simply used to further the stupid plot which involves Simkin trying to take down a corrupt developer played by Ellen Barkin.
The recent Netflix series, Sense8, tackles similar issues with a far greater understanding of and empathy towards humanity. The premise of The Cobbler should allow for poignant and uplifting viewing, but instead it ends up being maddening and preposterous.