Max Simkin repairs shoes in the same New York shop that has been in his family for generations. Disenchanted with the grind of daily life, Max stumbles upon a magical heirloom that allows him to step into the lives of his customers and see the world in a new way.
My favorite Adam Sandler movie is “Happy Gilmore.” The first time I caught it on late night TV, I couldn’t stop laughing. I never watched ‘Saturday Night Live’ or any of his previous movies although I knew of him but “Happy Gilmore” was the film that brought him to my attention. He’s made some good movies over the years but lately, I feel like his career is declining and films like “Grown Ups 2,” “Blended,” “Jack and Jill” and “That’s My Boy” are not helping in any way. It’s easy to forget that with a good script and director, Mr. Sandler is more than capable of delivering the goods, just watch “Punch-Drunk Love” and “Funny People” for proof of that. Thankfully, “The Cobbler” elevates Mr. Sandler out of movie hell and hopefully, his future projects will be as thought-provoking as this.
Mr. Sandler plays Max Simkin, a cobbler who lives in New York and who works in the same shop that has been passed down in his family for generations. His next-door neighbor Jimmy (Steve Buscemi), owns a barber shop and tries to converse with Max daily but he is very withdrawn and prefers to keep to himself. While working on an important customer’s order, his sewing machine malfunctions and he makes his way to the basement where he comes across a very old machine that he remembered his father telling him should only be used in special circumstances. Since this is one of those occasions, he finishes the work on the shoes and then proceeds to wait for his customer to come pick up his order. After several hours, he closes up shop.
Before he leaves, he inspects the shoes once more and decides to try them on. When he looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see his own reflection, instead, he sees his customer’s. He freaks out, quickly taking the shoes off and after calming down, tries them on again and once more, he sees his customer. He comes to the realization that any shoes that are worked on with the old sewing machine in the basement, allows him to literally walk in his customer’s footsteps. He begins fixing all shoes that come in the door that are his size and this allows him to walk out and about in public and gives him the opportunity to overcome his shyness and bashfulness, with no fear of embarrassment. When Carmen (Melonie Diaz) enters Max’s shop one day, he immediately falls for her but can’t bring himself to ask her out.
She is working to preserve a local historic area and Max offers to help her out but along the way, he encounters all sorts of resistance, from gangs to corrupt business people and it is then, that he realizes that he can work through these issues with a little help from his assortment of shoes. What’s weird watching this movie is that you are so acclimated to Mr. Sandler’s brash sense of humor that when it doesn’t surface, not even once, you start having withdrawal symptoms but as the movie progresses, you begin to realize that Mr. Sandler is a damn fine actor, when he’s not screaming obscenities and farting and burping. Granted, there is a time and a place for that humor but with Mr. Sandler, I wish he would move away from it more often, therefore, not alienating his loyal fan base.
The movie utilizes magical elements throughout and because the overall tone of the film is mostly lighthearted, thankfully, the combination works. Steve Buscemi and Adam Sandler have made a lot of movies together so they have a comfortable onscreen chemistry. Dustin Hoffman appears occasionally and the few scenes he and Mr. Sandler share together are genuinely affectionate. “The Cobbler” promotes the old adage don’t judge others until you have walked a mile in their shoes. It’s pretty self-evident but thanks to genuinely heartfelt performances all around, it makes the movie more tenable.
Available on DVD and Blu-ray May 12th
For more info about James visit his website at www.IrishFilmCritic.com