Bubble Boy

on August 24, 2001 by Tim Cogshell
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"Bubble Boy" is another of the brand of "dumb" comedies that have become undeniably popular. Sometimes these films are humorous and well conceived, as was the case with "There's Something About Mary" and "Me, Myself and Irene," both Farrelly Brothers epics; more often, they are utterly unfunny, which was the case with "Say It Isn't So" and "Freddy Got Fingered," a top candidate for worst film of the new millennium. "Bubble Boy" isn't that bad, but it's no "Mary" either.

"Bubble Boy" is outrageous (because it can be, not because it needs to be), shyly romantic, silly and generally pointless. It's a bit of drivel in the boy-meets-girl mode with a twist: the boy is confined to a bubble. Jimmy ("October Sky's" Jake Gyllenhaal) was born without an immune system. At the age of four, he's brought home in a sterile plastic bubble by his overprotective and insanely Christian mother (played brilliantly by veteran character actor Swoosie Kurtz). Over the next several years, Jimmy leads a sheltered life, educated by his mother--who basically leaves out all the good parts. He also falls in love with Chloe (Marley Shelton of "Sugar and Spice"), the pretty "whore next door," as his mother refers to her. When Chole decides to marry her jerk of a boyfriend in Niagara Falls, Jimmy embarks on a 3,000-mile trek after the girl he loves. He builds a self-contained bubble-suit and hits the road, with his hysterical mother hot on his trail.

The road trip aspect of "Bubble Boy" provides fodder for most of the jokes, which are requisitely crude and tactless and only occasionally amusing. Jimmy encounters a Happy Cult of people all named Todd and Lorraine, a psychotic biker, an ice-cream vendor-slash-guru and a trainload of freaks, and he bubble-wrestles a couple of strippers in a vat of mud for $500. But mostly he just bounces off things in what must be the most powerful industrial plastic known to humankind. Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Marley Shelton, Swoosie Kurtz, Danny Trejo, Dave Sheridan and John Carroll Lynch. Directed by Blair Hayes. Written by Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio and Michael Kalesniko. Produced by Beau Flynn and Eric McLeod. A Buena Vista release. Comedy. Rated PG-13 for language and crude sexual humor. Running time: 84 min

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