The Cobbler (2015)
Starring Adam Sandler, Method Man, Ellen Barkin, Melonie Diaz, Dan Stevens, Steve Buscemi, and Dustin Hoffman
Directed by Tom McCarthy
***This film is currently streaming on Netflix***
Sandler is Max Simkin, owner of his family's cobbler shop in the Lower East Side of New York City. Passed down for generations, Max took over the shop when his father left Max and his mother abruptly one day. Run down and not entirely happy with his life, Max is looking for a way out, but continues the day in-day out routine of fixing peoples' shoes. When a thuggish guy name Leon (Method Man) arrives at Max's shop near closing time and demands that his shoes be ready within a few hours, Max agrees to fix them, but while doing so, his stitching machine breaks. Remembering an old non-electric machine in his shop's basement, Max fixes the guy's shoes and then waits for him to arrive. When he doesn't, out of boredom, Max tries the shoes on...and suddenly transforms into Leon. With the shoes on, he's Leon, yet as soon as he removes them, he's back to Max again. Curious as to what the heck is going on, Max stitches another set of shoes on the old-school machine and the same thing occurs, inhabiting the persona of the owner of the shoes.
Admittedly, I found this premise surprisingly pleasant and perhaps full of great (unrealized) potential. There was an innocence in the film's opening forty-five minutes that I bought into with McCarthy nicely honing in on a bedraggled and downtrodden working class man who discovers the pleasures (and disappointments) of life as other people in his neighborhood. However, the film takes a turn for the worse, becoming a mess in its second half as Max uncovers some of Leon's secrets that hurl him into a world of trouble for which he is completely ill-prepared. I'm blown away by the fact that the same guy who wrote Spotlight could actually pen this as well because The Cobbler is just a melange of styles and genres that don't coalesce properly.
Sandler is actually surprisingly solid here and helps the film succeed in its first half. However, most of the rest of cast are playing severely under-conceived caricatures that don't add anything to the plot. Also, it should be noted that I'm not one to get particularly in a tizzy about such things, but there's a portrayal of a cross-dressing (or perhaps transgender) character here that is so poorly portrayed that I couldn't believe it made it to the screen. Like I said, I'm not one to usually care about stuff like this (because I'm obviously inherently callous and inconsiderate...ha!), but this struck me as quite disheartening. Still, while it has its faults for sure, The Cobbler works for half of its runtime...which is more than I can say for most Adam Sandler films.
The RyMickey Rating: C