Released: 1st April
Seen: 5th April
Looking back on the last two years of the pandemic and how it’s impacted the movie industry, it’s legitimately stunning that we didn’t see more closures of cinemas and studios. The number of films that were even able to shoot during the pandemic was dramatically lower than usual and a lot of films seemed to think they needed to be about the pandemic and so many of them were bad.
Films like Songbird, Locked In and 2025: The World Enslaved By A Virus are some of the worst things to come out of the virus that haven’t involved a bunch of idiots upset about a piece of cloth being on their face (OK 2025 is all about that, FUCK I hate that movie). Point is that it is apparently pretty hard to do a feature-length story about living through the Covid pandemic and so far, Host is the best film to tell that kind of story… I’m not sure where The Bubble lands on the scale of quality but it’s not absolutely wretched so that feels like an absolute win.
The Bubble features the cast of the Cliff Beasts franchise who have all been contracted to film part 5 of their strange little franchise. Of course, filming such a movie during Covid means that in order to ensure everyone’s safety that the cast and crew must quarantine and live together in a special pandemic bubble that will hopefully allow them to finish the film without having to worry about stopping and starting all the time.
However, once filming starts the cast begins getting into serious trouble, be it because of strained interpersonal relationships or drug/sex addiction or just not liking the script that they’ve been given, whatever problems you can imagine are happening on the Cliff Beasts set and things are going to get absolutely insane.
It’s a little hard to deny that the first half-hour or so of The Bubble is just dull, with no good jokes and mostly just a bunch of watching rich annoying people walking around a large. Hell, if we’re being really honest, I’d go so far as to say that the first hour of the film is dull enough that I wouldn’t blame anyone who turned it off out of complete boredom because that first hour is just a slog filled with minimal moments that even resemble jokes.
Our main cast turn up, we quickly become aware that the main focus of the story is going to be Carol Cobb (Karen Gillan) and the supporting cast basically come in to tell us what they’re into, so Dieter Bravo (Pedro Pascal) is the drug abuser, Krystal Kris (Iris Apatow) is the youthful TikTok girl and Dustin Mulray (David Duchovney) is the annoying actor who constantly changes the script, but beyond getting to learn their main character traits we don’t get to laugh that much… until one character tries to escape and then we start having fun.
The second half of The Bubble is where things start actually kind of work, the jokes begin flying out about what it’s like to try and work under the Covid conditions, people trying to work while ill, the strain of being away from family, all these topics that we as an audience can actually relate to start becoming the focus of the film and it creates a lot of genuinely funny moments.
It gets especially funny when The Bubble shows us what this mythical Cliff Beasts movie might look like, AKA it looks like something straight out of an Asylum wet dream and it’s kind of funny watching the cast getting annoyed on the big green screen set while a giant digital dinosaur flies towards them. The moments where the film goes nuts can be fun, or at least you can tell where the fun could be in those moments even if they are few and far between.
However it’s astoundingly hard to work out just what kind of world The Bubble is meant to take place, we can assume it takes place in our modern world because of the whole virus thing and the dropping of names like Mark Ruffalo, Benedict Cumberbatch and a cameo by Beck but for some reason, our entire main cast are playing fictional actors… our main cast that consists of people like Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, David Duchovney, Leslie Mann and Keegan-Michael Key just to name a handful, so why are they not just playing themselves?
It feels like that was the intent on some level, it’s not like the characters they’re given are so unique that they have to be fictional, but it makes for a confusing time because I’m hearing a cast member say “You look like Benedict Cumberbatch” while Karen Gillan (who has literally shared screentime with Benedict on multiple occasions) is sitting right there. That would’ve almost automatically elevated The Bubble on some level just out of the charm of these actors taking the piss out of themselves, it feels like a missed opportunity that creates more than a few weird moments.
But even without that, you still just have this strange uneven comedy where most of the best jokes are right at the end when everything has gone absolutely insane. If anything it feels like there were some missed opportunities here that would’ve really helped the movie because it’s not like this is a bad concept, a self-referential comedy about trying to work during the pandemic could’ve been a genuinely great thing to watch but this really isn’t great, it’s just OK and even that is mostly in the second half of The Bubble.
Sure the second half has some genuine gut buster moments (Including a fake documentary that is so good it’ll make you wonder why the entire film wasn’t in that style) but you have to make it through the boring opening hour and deal with the weird choices that just hinder the project.
Even with The Bubble not being great though, the actors do deliver exactly what you want. Big standouts include Iris Apatow who just owns the film as the TikTok teen, Pedro Pascal is the most charming hilarious sex and drug addict you’ve ever seen and even though she only has a few zoom call scenes, Kate McKinnon is in top form as an asshole producer who is enjoying a holiday. Also naturally Karen Gillan is the glue that holds this thing together, even when the film is dull, she’s doing something to try and get your attention – even if it doesn’t quite work.
Is The Bubble awful? No, not really. It’s not good, wouldn’t watch it again and will probably forget most of it by the end of the week but the concept is interesting, the cast is universally enjoyable and there’s some stuff in the later parts of The Bubble that shows the actual potential of this piece. It’s on the lower end of borderline, wouldn’t really recommend it unless you’re a big fan of one of the actors involved but it’s also not one that’s so bad you should be warned not to watch it.
The Bubble exists, it has enough good and bad parts to cancel each other out. Its biggest benefit is that it is kind of fascinating to picture how few changes would be needed to turn this into something good, it’s so damn close that you can see it and that’s at least more interesting than other films about this period on history.