Bubble Boy

in Comedy, Dick Flicks

Best Ever. Period.

  • Stars:  Jake Gyllenhaal
  • Director:  Blair Hayes
  • Writers:  Cinco Paul, Ken Daurio

This is not, as everyone asks, the true and inspiring story of that immuno-deficient kid who lived in a plastic bubble as played by John Travolta in the 70s.  This overlooked gem from director Blair Hayes and writers Cinco Paul and Ken Daurio bursts into an entirely different dimension of filmmaking.  In a good way.

There is a boy in a plastic bubble.  Or rather, a series of plastic bubbles and tubes that run through his suburban McMansion much like an elaborate human-sized Habitrail hamster getup.  One has to wonder if, as star Jake Gyllenhaal suffered in his make-up chair every morning, letting his hair get vacuumed into an unpredictable plateau that would make George Lucas proud, the future Academy Award nominee had visions of his burgeoning career slowly being sucked down the toilet.

Jimmy the bubble boy, whose strained and creaky voice was clearly dubbed over by someone other than Gyllenhaal, has lived his entire life in the aforementioned Habitrail with a pathetically whipped father and a stifling mother who feeds Jimmy an exclusive diet of homemade, vitamin-rich, soy-based, germ-free, fat-free fiber cookies in the shape of crosses and Jesus fish.  One day Jimmy spies the beautiful new girl next door, Chloe, and falls head over heels for her, though he doesn’t know it yet.  Luckily, she falls head over heels right back, though our endearing hero is simply too naïve to realize that, either.  As years zoom by, Chloe tires of waiting for Jimmy and runs off to Niagara Falls to marry her (are we allowed to say dickwad?) boyfriend.  And finally, finally, Jimmy realizes what he’s lost.

With the aid of a portable bubble schematic and a pounding Blink 182 soundtrack, Jimmy breaks out of his bubble prison and leaves his parents behind to chase after the girl of his dreams.  Crossing the country with only a handful of coins and a pocketful of homemade, vitamin-rich etc. etc. cookies, our hopelessly sheltered Jimmy encounters every colorful persona you’ve never even imagined, some of whom try to help Jimmy in his quest, and some of whom are out to…  Well, we won’t spoil that here.  But it’s a veritable circus of characters who undoubtedly have never come together in one movie before, and there’s a sweetness to the whole thing that makes you invest emotionally in every compoundingly ludicrous situation.

You might find yourself catching “Bubble Boy” halfway through on TV, as I did.  You might think, this is inexcusably dumb and I can’t believe that’s Jake Gyllenhaal, as I did.  And yet, you might find yourself staying on that channel every time it comes on and watching the pieces out of order until you just have to buy the damn thing and watch it straight through, as I did.  And only then, without the tasteful TV edits, will you begin to comprehend that what looks like the worst of terrible writing, costuming, and acting is actually a flawlessly executed masterpiece in disguise.

It kills us to have to stamp this as dick flick, but dick flick it definitely is.  With a massive and stellar supporting cast behind him that includes Swoosie Kurtz, Marley Shelton, Danny Trejo, John Carroll Lynch, Verne Troyer, Dave Sheridan, Brian George, Ping Wu, and Zach Galifianakis, to name just a few, Gyllenhaal headlines this maniacal ride.  But as we emphasize again and again, “dick flick” does not necessarily equate to “two hours I won’t ever get back.”  “Bubble Boy” is an indescribable, inimitable, inconceivable creation that defies any and all attempts to categorize it and soars straight to the top of our best ever list.  Don’t read the box.  Just sit down and hit play already.  And don’t be surprised if you find yourself on your seventeenth viewing and still ROFLing at previously undiscovered treasures.

And by all means, if you happen to spy Jake Gyllenhaal slipping out of his car at Whole Foods, flag him down and start frantically blabbering the Pledge of Allegiance at him.

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