The strangest thing about The Cobbler is not its premise, nor the events of the plot, but the fact that financiers of Hollywood still seem happy to throw their bucks at yet another Adam Sandler flop. And what a flop it is, officially. Box office receipts hold it as Sandler’s lowest take ever: $24,000 for its opening weekend.
The premise is this: Sandler, a beaten down cobbler in New York city, one day discovers that if he wears the shoes he has mended using his father’s old stitching machine, he can transform into the original owner of the shoes, his body changing into theirs. Thus ensues much hilarity. Or not. Pathos then, and learning, and love. No, not quite that either. If the moral of the film is – as quoted – that to truly know a man, one must first walk a mile in his shoes, then it desperately needs to get a pair belonging to a better movie. But that is not the moral. What is, is a mystery.
Sandler, over the course of the movie, inhabits the bodies and lives of the boss of a small criminal gang, a teenage boy, a transgender woman, a handsome British man, a Chinese man, and his own father. Some of these characters are superfluous to the movie, and played for comic effect. Unfortunately the jokes fall flat – a Chinese man in Chinatown, hilarious? – much in keeping with the tone of the rest of the movie. This begs the question as to why Paul Sado, with his co-writer and director Thomas McCarthy, hadn’t made a film for younger children. The certificate is 12A, and violence later in the film merits that rating, but there could have potentially been an amusing caper for younger viewers, had the slapstick comedic possibility of the premise been the focus. Instead, the result is a film that isn’t sure what it is. Is it a slapstick comedy? Is it a crime thriller? Or is it a meditation on life and its problems, and what it means to be an individual?
The problem with this movie is not that it is badly made, or even Sandler – he himself seems to be working the hardest and most earnestly he has for a while – the problem is that the entire film is monotonous, no doubt because it never quite decides what sort of movie it’s going to be. And as with most things that cannot decide, it ends up being too much of everything, not enough of anything.
The Cobbler is released nationwide on 31st July 2015.
Watch the trailer for The Cobbler here: