Cyclone Rewind: ‘The Cobbler’ movie review

Dalton Gackle

When the title is searched on the web, Wikipedia will read that “The Cobbler” is a magic realism comedy-drama, or whatever that means.

To be fair, “The Cobbler” is a tough film to label. It takes bits and pieces from a number of genres and is not limited to comedy, drama, action, crime, fantasy, superhero or even a love story.

The plot follows a cobbler, played by Adam Sandler, who discovers that the old stitching machine in his shop’s basement is magical. Once he stitches shoes with the machine, Max, the cobbler, can become someone else simply by slipping on their shoes. The film takes the phrase “to get to know a man, you must take a walk in his shoes” literally. 

Of course, with Max running around in other people’s shoes, only trouble can ensue. He ends up in the shoes of a criminal ringleader named Leon after his mother dies and he needs money for a proper headstone.

Max remembers that Leon told him about his expensive watch collection, so he slips on Leon’s shoes. He impersonates Leon and works his way into the criminal’s apartment. There, he bumps into the real Leon, and later, Leon’s associates.

The criminal undertakings circle back to a pretty girl, Carmen (Melonie Diaz), whom Max likes. With some hackneyed ingenuity, Max helps Carmen, wins her heart, saves his conscience and wraps up the plot with a neat little bow.

That is, until Max decides to impersonate Leon one last time to right some of Leon’s wrongdoings. From there on the plot becomes a little too fantastic for a movie that already features the ability to become anyone by just wearing their shoes.

When I saw this, I could not help but expect another childish comedy that Sandler has so accustomed moviegoers to. I was wrong, but that did not make a difference in the outcome of the film. While the change of pace was good for Sandler, and he did a fine job, the movie might have benefited from a more serious actor.

Steve Buscemi portrays the barber, whose shop is next door to Max. Nothing was wrong with Buscemi’s performance, but nothing was spectacular about it either, considering Buscemi is known and respected for his roles in “Reservoir Dogs,” “Fargo” and “Boardwalk Empire.”

Clifford Smith, better known as rapper Method Man, lends his acting talents rather than his rapping talents for the film to become the criminal, Leon. It was a smooth performance for the rapper, but like the others, it was an underwhelming role.

Written by Thomas McCarthy and Paul Sado, the plot seems muddled and becomes lost in its own complicatedness. McCarthy, who also directed the film, had success writing “The Station Agent” and also contributed to “Up” — two films that are simple but powerful. “The Cobbler” is quite the opposite — complicated and ineffective.

However, despite the complicated and fantastic story, The Cobbler is easy to watch. The premise of slipping on someone’s shoes to become them is very interesting.

The film would have been better if had it ended after Max secured a date with Carmen, but unfortunately it ended with the silliness I had expected when I saw Sandler’s name.