Adam Sandler occasionally likes to break up his string of broad comedy movies like Jack and Jill and That’s My Boy with the occasional dramedy to let him flex his straight acting muscles (with past examples including Punch-Drunk Love, Spanglish, Reign Over Me, and Funny People).
This year those films are writer/director Jason Reitman’s Men, Women and Children and writer/director Thomas McCarthy’s The Cobbler, and the latter film has just received a new international trailer ahead of its spring release in the UK. In the film, Sandler plays Max Simkin, a fourth-generation cobbler in New York City.
One day, Max is charged with repairing the shoes of a local gangster called Ludlow (Method Man). When his regular stitching machine breaks, Max goes into the basement and discovers a magical contraption that allows him to temporarily transform into the owner of any shoes he repairs with it – so long as those shoes are size 10 and a half.
A series of adventures ensue as Max takes the metaphor of walking a mile in someone else’s shoes a little too literally, living life not only as Ludlow but as the owners of a variety of shoes in his care and eventually becoming embroiled in a crime plot. All the while, though, he is being watched by his increasingly confused next door neighbor (Steve Buscemi).
Those who are hoping that The Cobbler will be a step up from Sandler’s broad comedy fare might want to temper their expectations, as the response from critics upon the film’s premiere at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival was less than enthused. Reviewers characterized the film as a misfire with elements of transphobia and racism that make it an uncomfortable viewing experience.
It’s possible to discern some of that even in this trailer, as Sandler’s cobbler uses his newfound abilities to infiltrate the home of the girl he’s lusting after by disguising himself as her boyfriend, subsequently creeping on her as she gets naked in the shower. Fortunately his inability to take off the shoes prevents him from getting in with her.
Max’s gesture of transforming into his father (Dustin Hoffman) in order to go on a dinner date with his mother (Lynn Cohen) also looks a lot less sweet and a lot more disturbing than the filmmakers probably intended it to be. That goes for the movie in general, as it were.
The Cobbler does not yet have a U.S. release date.