Bubble Boy is a nasty fairy tale that should have gotten boiled in a cauldron and left on the shelf forever. The only thing that saves this mean-spirited mish-mash is the bubbly charm of the teen leads. Jimmy (Jake Gyllenhall, October Sky) was born without immunities, and he’s lived all his life inside his germ-free plastic bubble. His “good” mother (Swoosie Kurtz, Liar, Liar), a fanatic Christian, force-feeds him a diet of home-cooked health food and rails about the filthy world outside his bubble. Miraculously, the kid reaches his teen years with an extraordinarily sunny disposition. Of course, he knows nothing about pimples or sex or contact sports, but so what? The naif-hero has driven many good movies: Forrest Gump, Edward Scissorhands and Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure, to name a few. Alas, when the writers of Bubble Boy (newcomers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio) were in film school, they must have concentrated on Fast Forward 101, because they certainly didn’t rip off anything worthwhile from those good movies. Bubble Boy lives happily in his sanitized world until he falls in love with the endearing girl-next-door, Chloe (Marley Shelton, Sugar & Spice). Chloe loves Jimmy too, but heck, what can she do? The guy’s in a bubble. So she decides to marry a dork in Niagara Falls in three days. In an obvious “Break-free, suckers!” metaphor meant for all us psychologically “stuck” folks in the audience, Jimmy bursts out of his bubble-prison. He manufactures a traveling bubble and rushes east. Even though every scene looks like Palmdale, California (I know, I used to live nearby), the Knight in Shining Bubble Armor travels across country by foot, bus, train, taxi and plane. He meets an assortment of cartoonish characters, including mindless cult members, grungy bikers (led by Danny Trejo, who has the only good part in the movie), and crazed Asian mud-wrestling fans. To pound home another cliche — “We are all freaks, suckers!” — the filmmakers also include a traveling freak show. And to show that their contempt for religion is all-inclusive, one of their freak acts is Siamese twins dressed as Hasidic Jews. In a really disgusting segment, a cow is repeatedly run over on the road, its guts splattering all over a devout and horrified Hindu ice-cream vendor. (This is funny?) Jimmy arrives in the chapel just in the nick of time, and, risking instant death, he rips open his bubble to kiss Chloe. But guess what — he doesn’t die! Lordamercy, it seems dear, sweet Mom has been lying all this time. Jimmy doesn’t have the dread immune-deficiency disease after all! Happy, happy! Of course, Mom must surely be punished for imprisoning her son in a bubble. Not on your life, suckers! After Jimmy and Chloe get married, Mom rides off into the sunset with her husband and the leader of the bike gang — a liberated, religion-free menage-a-trois. I told you, one nasty little fairy tale.
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