Film Review by Kam Williams
Adam Sandler Underwhelming as Shoemaker in Muddled Magical Fantasy
Max (Adam Sandler) is the fourth generation in a long line of cobblers whose family tree can be traced all the way back to a business founded by his great-grandfather Pinchas Simkin (Donnie Keshawarz) in Eastern Europe in the 19th Century. Max presently plies his trade in a modest shoe repair shop located on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
The bashful bachelor still lives at home and dotes on his elderly mother (Lynn Cohen) once he gets off work. He’s never dated, but that doesn’t stop him from ogling attractive passersby while eating pickles on the street with Jimmy (Steve Buscemi), the barber who runs the establishment next-door.
Max’s fortunes change the day a neighborhood bully (Method Man) enters the store and demands that his alligator shoes’ damaged soles be sewn on the spot. When Max balks because his stitching machine is broken, menacing Ludlow gives him until the end of day, or else.
After Ludlow storms out, Max ventures into the basement where he finds an antique stitcher which’ll do in a pinch. He repairs the tattered, size10½s and slips them on, since his feet just happen to be the same size.
Lo and behold, Max gets the shock of his life when he magically morphs into Ludlow. Then, he starts trying on other customers’ shoes, too, and turns into the owner each time.
Curious, Max decides to test this newfound ability to literally walk in another man’s moccasins. He proceeds to make a mess everywhere he goes, even upsetting his mother by walking into the house looking exactly like her long-lost husband (Dustin Hoffman) after donning a pair of his penny loafers.
Written and directed by Thomas McCarthy, The Cobbler has to be considered a big disappointment, given the high expectations set by his impressive earlier offerings which include The Station Agent, Up, Win Win, The Visitor and Million Dollar Arm. Unfortunately, the fatal design flaw here rests with casting, since Adam Sandler tends to fall flat in a flick if he isn’t going full retard, ala his most successful outings as The Waterboy, Happy Gilmore and Billy Madison.
Sorry, Sandler simply isn’t very convincing playing a character with an I.Q.
above room temperature.
Fair (1 star)
PG-13 for violence, profanity and partial nudity
In English and Yiddish with subtitles
Running time: 98 minutes
Distributor: RLJ / Image Entertainment
To see a trailer for The Cobbler, visit: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xQGpDi5mM-4