‘The Cobbler’ Movie Review – Walking a Mile
The idiom “walk a mile in their shoes” never meant anything to me until I fell in love with Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird” a couple years ago. Since then, the phrase has had a lasting effect on how I live my life. You don’t truly know someone until you walk a mile in their shoes. Thomas McCarthy (Win Win) – director of this weekend’s limited release of The Cobbler – also has a special place in my heart. Combining the walk-a-mile premise with one of the most underrated directors is a recipe for success. Unfortunately, the end result doesn’t quite live up to the rather lofty expectations, though I’ll concede the film is still has some surface-level entertainment.
This walk-a-mile premise is exactly like it sounds. The plot revolves around a downtrodden shoe repairman, or cobbler, Max (Adam Sandler). After finding an old family heirloom, Max realizes he can transform himself into the owner of any shoes if he uses the heirloom to alter the shoes. This leads to some pretty wacky situations which, as you could probably guess, leads to him getting in some trouble.
The Cobbler is a mixture between comedy and drama, which you’d think would fit right into McCarthy’s filmography that includes The Station Agent, The Visitor, and Win Win. However, his latest film will be the one-that-doesn’t-fit when we look back on McCarthy’s interesting career.
His previous films are very character-focused and I think that’s ultimately what’s “wrong” with The Cobbler. While Sandler does a great job of pulling the reigns back, his character just isn’t quite as interesting (or perhaps introspective is the better word) as McCarthy’s predecessors.
With that being said, the rest of the story isn’t half-bad. Sure, Max isn’t super-fascinating, but some of the people he transforms into help pick up the slack a bit. After the movie gets Max (and the audience) used to the wacky premise, we’re introduced to Jimmy (Steve Buscemi), Ludlow (Method Man), and Elaine (Ellen Barkin), who all play a hand in how the story unfolds.
I hardly doubt McCarthy (who also wrote the story with Paul Sado) was trying to come up with a cohesive narrative. In fact, I’d argue things are supposed to be a little hazy because, well, it’s about a man that can transform his appearance based on what shoes he’s wearing. It’s hard to point at its jumbled plot as a flaw but, at the same time, it’s hard to look past it altogether.
Still, The Cobbler has the light-hearted appeal that you’d expect going in. Sandler, which I touched on earlier, doesn’t go crazy over-the-top (thank God) and plays a character more in-line with his turn in Punch-Drunk Love. He helps aid the film’s tone but it’s ultimately left up to the script and, most notably, its score (done by John Debney and Nick Urata).
At the end of the day, The Cobbler straddles the line between being mediocre or effective. If you use McCarthy’s past films as a measuring stick – which is perhaps unfair – you’ll likely lean more towards mediocrity. However, others will find tangible things to like in a completely intangible premise. I, as you can tell, fall into the first group.
Check out The Cobbler in limited theaters now. Sound off below with your thoughts!
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