Saturday movie review: The Cobbler

A mish-mash of themes, unexpected elements, and a surprisingly diverse cast are cobbled together to create an entertaining and engaging fable of sorts called THE COBBLER, released in March of this year.

The Cobbler movie

In THE COBBLER you'll find:

  • opening scenes featuring subtitles translating Yiddish conversation between craftsmen of a long-gone generation
  • a Jewish urban legend
  • New York gangsters and thugs
  • a pretty young gal trying to save a community
  • humor
  • heart
  • romance—long-term as well as budding
  • a magical heirloom
  • homemade pickles
  • themes of fathers and sons, being oneself, making a difference in the world
  • a zombie (or so it seems)
  • saving soles—and souls
  • an unhappy and lonely businessman... played by Adam Sandler in a part very different from those rife with annoying, over-the-top antics
  • Steve Buscemi, rapper Method Man, Ellen Barkin, and—in a role uncredited in opening credits—Dustin Hoffman

A mish-mash, right? A mish-mash that, I must admit, entertained me.

THE COBBLER stars Adam Sandler as Max Simkin, who has taken over the family shoe-repair business handed down to each son, beginning several generations past. He's unhappy and lonely, interacting with only—besides his customers—Jimmy the barber next door (Steve Buscemi) and his aging and ill mother with whom he lives.

His life is upended, though, when his sole-stitching machine breaks in the midst of repairing the shoes of a demanding thug (Method Man), and he resorts to using the heirloom stitcher passed down with the store many generations ago. A machine that turns out to have magical powers.


I haven't enjoyed the silly comedic roles Adam Sandler plays for quite some time—if ever, really. THE COBBLER, though, has more the feel of the Adam Sandler who starred in SPANGLISH, my favorite film starring him. Sandler's Max is a little depressed and beaten down by having no choice but to carry on the family business. He's a good son to his mother, though, and a good friend to Jimmy. He's kind to most of his customers and excellent at his craft.

Yet life hasn't turned out as Max hoped, and the magical shoe stitcher provides him an opportunity to walk in another man's shoes—literally—to see what another life might have been like. His initial revelation about the stitcher's powers and what he can do with it kept me chuckling—in large part because he underplayed the humor in it all, foregoing knee-slapping goofiness of most of his comedic roles.

Steve Buscemi has always been one of my favorite character actors, and he doesn't disappoint as kind-hearted Jimmy. Ellen Barkin proves she can still perfectly play a real <cuss>. And Dustin Hoffman warmed my heart in his magical part.

Here (after a long ad), Adam Sandler and director Tom McCarthy talk about the film:

THE COBBLER has taken a beating by critics and online commenters. I found the film sorta sweet and sorta fun—and sometimes that's all a movie needs to be.

THE COBBLER (Rated PG-13 for some violence, language and brief partial nudity) runs 99 minutes and is available on streaming, DVD, and Blu-ray.