In late 2013, Adam Sandler and company were shooting his latest movie, The Cobbler, on the Lower East Side. The film is opening this weekend and the early reviews do not look promising. In the Post, Lou Lumenick writes:
Adam Sandler plays it relatively straight in “The Cobbler,” a painfully earnest and totally unfunny magic-realist fable set on the Lower East Side that works in no way whatsoever. Sandler is Max Simkin, the lonely fourth-generation proprietor of a shoe repair shop whose stitching machine breaks down while he’s repairing a pair of loafers for Ludlow (Method Man), a local gangster. Resorting to an ancient, pedal-powered device in the basement to complete the job, he accidentally discovers that if he puts on Ludlow’s repaired shoes, he temporarily becomes Ludlow. And, with experimentation, Max determines the trick works for anyone else with size 10½ shoes. It’s a perfectly workable premise, but entertaining execution totally eludes director and co-writer Tom McCarthy, who previously made a couple of charming little movies, “The Station Agent” and “The Visitor.”
Indiewire liked the film even less:
Well, we’ll say this for “The Cobbler,”it’s probably the first anti-gentrification, magical shoe, Jewish fable in the history of cinema. But that’s about where the praise ends for this baffling misfire from Oscar-nominated writer/director Tom McCarthy… While the idea is original, it’s also ridiculous, and the story is not close to clever enough to put it into any kind of context that is compelling, interesting, or believable… (The) film’s final ten minutes… push “The Cobbler” into something transcendently, spectacularly bad. A couple of plot twists and reveals try desperately to turn this fairy tale into something akin to legend, with enough transmitted that a door is actually left open for further sequels. Yes, “The Cobbler” becomes a sort of indie movie fantasy origin story. Seriously. It’s a card played that nothing in the rest of the movie even suggests, and is so utterly misguided it’s nearly jaw-droppingly remarkable. (Well, your jaw will drop at the miscalculation regardless).
But in the Observer, Rex Reed has a more optimistic take:
The Cobbler is the kind of fanciful New York fable Ben Hecht and Damon Runyon used to tell in books and syndicated newspaper columns back in the day. Written and directed with precision and sensitivity by Thomas McCarthy (The Station Agent), it revives the pleasant art of storytelling most of today’s young filmmakers have all but abandoned, and cures (temporarily, anyway) my allergy to Adam Sandler. He’s wasted too much time making lousy movies. His whole career is about mediocrity. This is his bid for respectability. Under the guidance of a real director for a change, it works, sort of.
If you’re undeterred, you can catch The Cobbler at Village Cinema East beginning tomorrow.