(director/writer: Judd Apatow; screenwriter: Pam Brady; cinematographer: Ben Smithard; editors: James Thomas, Dan Schalk; music:Michael Andrews, Andrew Bird; cast: Karen Gillan (Carol Cobb), Iris Apatow (Krystal Kris), Fred Armisen (Darren Eigen), Vir Das (Ronjon), David Duchovny (Dustin Mulray), Samson Kayo (Bola), Keegan-Michael Key (Sean Knox), Guz Khan (Howie Frangopolous), Leslie Mann (Lauren Van Chance), Kate McKinnon (Paula, studio head), Pedro Pascal (Dieter Bravo),  Harry Trevaldwyn (Gunther), Danielle Vitalis (Pippa), Rob Delaney (Marti, Carol’s agent), Raphael Acloque (Zaki), Chris Witaske (Josh), Galen Hopper (Carla), Ross Lee (Mr. Best), Nick Kocher (Scott, the EPK guy), Celeste Dring (Martha the script supervisor), Ben Ashenden (Tim the MoCap guy), Alexander Owen (Cyril the MoCap guy), Maria Bamford (Krystal’s mom), John Cena (Steve Stunt coordinator); Runtime: 126; MPAA Rating: R; producer; Judd Apatow: Netflix; 2022)

It’s overlong, unfunny and disappoints in so many other ways.

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

Judd Apatow  (“Funny People”/”This is 40”) is the director and co-writer with Pam Brady of this misfire, a comedy that radically differs from his others (it shoots a comedy about a doomed fantasy production as a movie within a movie). It’s overlong, unfunny and disappoints in so many other ways (like its satire has no sting).

The title refers to
the designated space in which a cluster of people can safely get together in, and it also refers to the pampering Hollywood stars who get in their elite bubble to isolate themselves from the rest of America.

There are many celebrity cameos and a script filled with many self-indulgent moments.

The plot tells about the
sixth installment of the blockbuster action franchise series Cliff Beasts, to be filmed in England, in a luxury country hotel, with a Hollywood cast. Reluctantly returning after missing the last series is the popular actress Carol Cobb (Karen Gillant), making a comeback after bombing in CB 4, playing the unbelievable controversial movie role as a “half-Israeli, half-Palestinian” in Jerusalem Rising.

 Because of
COVID-19 there are strict on-set procedures that include regular testing and for everyone in the film to be on a 14-day quarantine period before filming begins.

The plan is to shoot the movie quickly in three months. But things go seriously wrong such as rewrites, production delays and special effects mishaps.

With all its setbacks, it looks doubtful if the film would ever be released.

Besides Carol, the all-kooky and self-centered cast includes:
Dustin Mulray (David Duchovny), the guardian of the franchise, who wants to rewrite his part; Lauren Van Chance (Leslie Mann, director’s wife), is Duchovny’s ex and a former star who supports his called for script changes; and Sean Knox (Keegan-Michael Key), the action star, who promotes his New Age religion.

e series newcomers are the prima donna Howie Frangopolous (Guz Khan) who is joined by veteran actor Dieter Bravo (Pedro Pascal). He’s the drug-addict enlisting in the series anew, and there’s also the social media star, the unpleasant young viral TikTokker Krystal Kris (Iris Apatow, director’s daughter). Fred Armisen plays the film’s inept indie director, in over his head, and Kate McKinnon plays the studio boss (financing the film while exercising control from afar (like when skiing or on a safari).

Supposedly built around being a light comedy vehicle, it tries to give us an idea of how rough it can be to make a film in such difficult pandemic times.

The film might be a labor of love for Apatow (at least his angry feelings about what he was put through is genuine, even if the comedy is strained), but even if that’s admirable in this case it doesn’t make for a good film. I felt trapped in the film’s artificial bubble. It might only add up if it were a YouTube sketch and not a feature film of a 126 minutes.