Plot: What’s it about?
Jimmy Livingston (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a strong willed young man, but life has placed a serious obstacle in his path, one which seems impossible to overcome. You see, Jimmy was born without an immune system and that means even the smallest problems turn into potentially fatal ones, so all kinds of precautions have to be taken. This means he has lived inside a plastic bubble his entire life and has missed out on a lot of fun, without a doubt. He is unaware of what the outside world has to offer, as his overprotective mother (Swoosie Kurtz) keeps him sheltered, but he does know about love, at least he thinks so. The object of his affection is Chloe (Marley Shelton), a gorgeous young woman who lives next door and while she & Jimmy have been friends forever, his condition prevents things from being more than platonic. But when he learns she is getting married at Niagra Falls, he swears to venture there himself and reveal his hidden love for her. As he builds a special mobile bubble, can even his intense will be enough to help him survive in the real world, where danger lurks around every corner?
This seemed like just another mindless comedic picture, until I heard that some special interest groups were protesting the film. As the movie does sort of make light of a serious health condition, that is understandable, but rest assured, Bubble Boy takes aim on a lot of groups and does so without blinking an eye. In addition to those with immune system troubles, this movie also pokes fun at dwarfs, Jewish folks, and all sorts of other races, creeds, and handicaps, never even flinching in the process. So if you’re one of the people who believes in politically correct cinema, this isn’t your ticket, as I am sure a lot of folks could be offended. But I happen to find that to be fresh and in this case, rather humorous, as most movies are too scared to jab at certain topics, given how weak minded the masses can be about touchy subjects. No, Bubble Boy doesn’t try to make a statement, it just tries to entertain us and while it often does a poor turn, it does have some moments and gets brave at times, which makes it worthwhile. I don’t think this is nearly as bad as some folks claim, so if you’re interested, make sure to give this disc a rental.
The main player in Bubble Boy is Jake Gyllenhaal, who gives a humorous, but potentially annoying performance. I suppose you have to align the performance expectations with the material, but Gyllenhaal is often so bad, you have to wince. Yes, I know his voice was supposed to be that grating, but man, it was terrible. He still manages to eke the most of this material that he can and since he looks like a moron, he’s believable in this role. Aside from his whiny antics and outlandish facial expressions, there’s not much else to judge in his turn, but that is due to the nature of the material, so no real harsh words to pass on there. You can also see Gyllenhaal in such films as Donnie Darko, Homegrown, October Sky, and City Slickers. The cast also includes Marley Shelton (Sugar & Spice, Pleasantville), Swoosie Kurtz (Cruel Intentions, Dangerous Liaisons), and Danny Trejo (From Dusk ‘Til Dawn, Con Air).
Video: How does it look?
Bubble Boy is presented in a 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer. As you’d expect from a day & date release, the image here looks terrific and has little room for complaints. The print has no real defects to speak of and the image is quite sharp, but I didn’t see much in terms edge enhancement, so no worries there. The film’s bright & vivid color scheme is maintained well here, with vibrant hues and no errors, while flesh tones are on the mark also. On the same lines, the contrast sports well balanced black levels and no issues as far as detail, so it all looks excellent with this treatment.
Audio: How does it sound?
As per usual for a dialogue driven comedy, Bubble Boy has little in terms of dynamic audio presence, but the included Dolby Digital 5.1 track is still solid. The music does open up the surrounds at times, but for the most part, the front channels bolster this mix. That is not bad news though, as the material is handled in fine and natural fashion, with no real errors to report. The sound effects have as punch as they need, which isn’t a whole lot, but this is due to the material and not limitations of this audio option. The dialogue is clean and never suffers from volume or clarity problems, so not a single word is lost. This disc also houses a French language option, as well as subtitles in English, French, and Spanish.
Supplements: What are the extras?
This disc has a nice selection of extras present, including an audio commentary track with director Blair Hayes and star Jake Gyllenhaal. This session is worth a spin, but has little in terms of technical information, just some idle chatter and at times, humorous comments that make it worth a listen. A selection of seven brief featurettes can be found in the “director’s diary” section and while short, they all contain some good information, I think. It would have been cool to have one longer piece instead of all these shorter ones, but I won’t complain. This disc also contains a featurette on the bubble used in the film, a gallery of production design artwork, a special sing-a-long feature, and a storyboard sequence.