Plot: What’s it about?
Twenty years ago I went to the theater and saw Billy Madison. The next year I saw Happy Gilmore (I’d seen more in between, but for the sake of this review I’m only focusing on Adam Sandler movies). In the years since I usually watch both at least once a year. And I laugh. These two films were the beginning of a great career for Sandler as he moved on from the sophomoric comedy to some more mainstream films. Of course, comedy is and most likely always will be, at the roots of Sandler’s wheelhouse. And in these last two decades, he’s shown us that he’s got some real talent with notable turns in 2002’s Punch Drunk Love, Spanglish and Funny People. Then again he’s also made Jack and Jill, both Grown Ups films as well as a slew of others with his ensemble. It took two tries by the PR agency to get me to request this movie, so I figured I’d give it a shot. And away we go!
Sandler plays Max Simkin, a hapless cobbler in the Lower East Side of New York who does his job because it’s what his father and grandfather did. He’s good at it, but takes no real joy from his work. He lives with his ailing Mother who constantly grills him about his day. As fate would have it, he encounters Leon (Method Man), a local thug who demands his shoes be resoled by the day’s end. Max, eager to please (and not get the crap kicked out of him) starts the job, only to have his stitcher break. It just so happens that he’s got an antique stitcher in the basement which he uses to finish the job. In a fit of rage, he tries on the shoes only to find that he’s been physically transformed into Leon. Max puts it together that if he uses the “magic” stitcher to resole someone’s shoes, he will literally become them when he wears them. This comes in handy when Max and Leon lock horns. Will Max use this newfound power to further his own interests or will he see that walking a mile in someone else’s shoes (on the most literal level) can change his perspective?
To be honest, I actually kind of enjoyed The Cobbler. Granted, it’s not Sandler’s best work but I’d probably best describe the film as “cute.” It had a few moments and some of the usual suspects are around (Steve Buscemi). Ellen Barkin and Dustin Hoffman have small, but memorable parts as well. I think, to me, what really made me enjoy the film was that it showed that Sandler hasn’t totally given up on his career. I suppose when you’re worth what he is (and I have no idea what that is), there comes a point in time that you just stop caring. I’d figured that he was at that point, but I suppose the need to entertain is still there. That or he’s got a huge ego. In the vein of one of Sandler’s other films that I enjoyed, Bedtime Stories, this might be something the kids might actually enjoy. I’d suggest a rental at the very least.
Video: How’s it look?
Shown in a 1.85:1 AVC HD image, I’ll have to say that Adam Sandler is aging. He’s nearing 50 and it amazes me how good (or bad) some can look at that age. Maybe he was intentionally made to look kind of poor and dumpy for this character, but I doubt it. Still, I can say these things as the detail looks amazing on this Blu-ray. The Lower East Side looks good, colors are warm and natural and even the graffiti is legible on the buildings. It’s a nice-looking transfer that’s sure to please views.
Audio: How’s it sound?
I think the best way I’d describe this soundtrack is “playful” as the surrounds chime in at just the right moment with some Danny Elfman-like enthusiasm. Vocals are rich and robust, though Sandler tends to mumble his lines a bit. Still, Dustin Hoffman’s understated, yet booming voice fills the air. There aren’t too many surround effects to speak of as this is a front-heavy mix, but I wasn’t disappointed in the least. It delivers what it’s supposed to.
Supplements: What are the extras?
Fans of this film might be let down, we don’t get much to choose from.
- The Making of The Cobbler – As the lone supplement, we get some insight and input from Tom McCarthy as well as Sandler and some other cast and crew members. The inspiration for the movie as well as the cast that was assembled once Sandler hopped on board. It’s pretty much as you’d expect.
- Theatrical Trailer
- DVD Copy
The Bottom Line
If you liked some of Sandler’s other supernatural films like Click or Bedtime Stories then this might be for you. I was happy to see that Sandler was actually trying in a role and found the movie to be enjoyable. While not on par with some of his other films (some of which are my favorites), this might pass the time on a rainy day. The Blu-ray offers some above average A/V specs, though it’s severely lacking in the supplemental department.