“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. Sometimes walking in another man’s shoes is the only way one can discover who they really are.”
The Cobbler is another one of those Adam Sandler films that mixes comedy with a serious issue. It’s the type of film that people who endlessly praise films like The Shawshank Redemption and Pulp Fiction and have them as the standard bearer to which all films should be measured absolutely despise. For me though they’re the type of film that needs to exist. There are quite a lot of them now all directed and written by different people but Adam Sandler does seem to be a recurring actor within them. The ones that come to mind are 50 First Dates, Funny People, and one without Adam Sandler that deals with the most serious issue of them all, 50/50. None of these films take a lighthearted approach with very serious issues but simply integrate comedy into them to make them more approachable and accessible. Whilst none of them will ever be considered amongst the greatest comedy or drama films I think that they do introduce a lot of people to these serious issues and probably help people through them as well.
The Cobbler however possibly tries to do too much in both the comedy and drama departments that it does delve into the realm of ridiculous at numerous times throughout the film. Nevertheless its serious issues should not be overlooked. Max (Adam Sandler) is at the centre of all of these. In the opening scene in which we meet Max as an adult we see straight away he is unhappy with his life. Later on he goes home and we see him looking after his sick, memory-impaired mother and talk about his father who seemingly abandoned them many years ago, both resulting in him inheriting a shop that he no longer wants to own. That’s when the magical sewing machine enters, giving Max a chance at both making his mother happy and livening up his miserable life. On the serious part of things, in an attempt to make his mother happy he puts on his fathers shoes, thus transforming himself into his father (Dustin Hoffman) so his mother can have one final dinner with her husband. The dinner scene is somewhat disturbing but I can see what they were trying to do with it, it came across a bit creepy to me but I’m sure some viewers found it heart-warming. His mother then dies overnight and Max blames himself for it thus delving his life into sadness and frustration which he takes out on his customers and his friend Jimmy (Steve Buscemi), and leads him into a life of crime.
In order to redeem his character, the main customer whose life he plays with is the villain of the film, Leon (Method Man), who mistreats Max when he goes to get his shoes repaired and is revealed as a criminal, working for Elena Greenawalt (Ellen Barkin), who in turn is trying to evict a couple from a building that Max’s love interest is trying to protect. In typical Adam Sandler fashion there are childish accidents and jokes to add the comedy into this film. The wide range of people he transforms himself into in order to sabotage Elena’s and Leon’s plans are mildly humorous and slowly retain the feel good factor into the film whilst not forgetting the death of his mother and the missing father.
Overall the film was actually okay, nothing special but not disastrous either. A slight improvement on Adam Sandler’s films from the last several years but also not close to being as funny as Billy Madison, The Waterboy, Anger Management and other films from that era. The only relatively recent films that I have properly laughed at from Adam Sandler were the Grown Ups films but that also had a much larger cast, including David Spade who I absolutely love. As I said at the start though as average as The Cobbler was and how easy it is to target, I do find comedy drama films to be necessary and I thought this was a reasonably good one.