Netflix's The Bubble Reviews Have Arrived, Read What Critics Are Saying About The Judd Apatow Comedy

The Bubble on Netflix.
(Image credit: Netflix)

Acclaimed comedy filmmaker Judd Apatow has made his Netflix movie debut with The Bubble — a movie about a movie being filmed in COVID times. A group of actors travel to a closed set to film the sixth installment of a big dinosaur franchise. Some digs at the Jurassic Park franchise are to be expected, but did the movie hit its mark overall? The critics were able to view the movie ahead of its release, and their reviews are in to give us some insight.

The Bubble features an impressive ensemble cast that includes the likes of Karen Gillan, Pedro Pascal, Fred Armisen, David Duchovny, Keegan-Michael Key, Kate McKinnon and Rob Delaney. Judd Apatow’s wife Leslie Mann and daughters Iris
and Maude Apatow also star. Let’s take a look at what critics are saying about The Bubble, starting with our own CinemaBlend review. Mike Reyes rates Apatow’s latest venture 2.5 stars out of 5, saying its promising premise and quick start doesn’t keep its strength throughout. The unquestionably talented cast helps land more hits than misses, he says, but that doesn’t make up for a thin final act:

It's easy to guess quite a few of the messages The Bubble tries to impart as it adds to its menagerie of spinning plates. Not all of the antics on display work, as everything’s kind of thrown into a grab bag of concepts, loosely hung on a story about making a movie. Both the ensemble and the story have way too many moving parts to bring everything to a satisfying conclusion, and while the movie has laughs, it also gets in its own way.

Gabriella Geisinger of Digital Spy rates the film 2 out of 5 stars, saying it suffers from perhaps too much self-awareness. The reminder that people with wealth experienced a much different pandemic than those without, even while claiming to be “in the trenches” is not fun:

What it has in cast though it lacks in... well, everything else. The writing is so aggressively tongue-in-cheek your face starts to ache. There are only so many times we can listen to real-life multi-millionaire actors play fictional multi-millionaire actors who whine about being locked up in a literal mansion, being waited on hand and foot (even if those doing the waiting are a bit weird) – while simultaneously bemoaning in their faux-self-effacing way that they know they haven't got it too bad – before you want to jab something sharp in your eye.

Ben Kenigsberg of The New York Times says with this cast it would be hard not to get some laughs, and he calls out Karen Gillan for being particularly funny, but overall the movie doesn’t flow, and the satire is safe and airless:

Elements that have the potential to become running gags — the prospect of forced re-isolation when a crew member tests positive, a rash not of Covid but of the flu, a mysterious security chief (Ross Lee) who uses violence to prevent escapes — either languish or are dropped, as if Apatow simply cut together what he felt were inspired improvisations without regard for flow (or the uncharacteristically cheap-looking visuals).

Leah Greenblatt of EW grades the movie a C-, saying this is one of Judd Apatow’s less successful projects. Half-formed subplots and big cameos are strung together for this subpar COVID comedy:

In its best moments, The Bubble refracts the familiar boredom of lockdown life, the indoor rollerskating and haphazard sex and TikTok dance routines, just by living in them. Like Adam McKay with Don't Look Up, though, Apatow seems stymied by his soft targets: The usual-suspect jokes — about age, ego, Hollywood — are broad where they should be specific, and smug even when they're not sharp. Both directors have made much better movies; go watch one of those instead.

Jake Cole of Slant rates The Bubble just 1 out of 4 stars, noting that the satire never finds its target. Judd Apatow’s scattershot approach to satire follows any joke that lands with another that undercuts it:

The Bubble’s best jokes highlight the discrepancy between the actors’ terror of getting sick and the casualness with which PAs and other lowly staffers mention having testing positive multiple times, as well as the absurdity of how the A-listers treat extended quarantine in well-supplied living conditions as hell on Earth. But by the time that the film reaches its midpoint, it abandons the critical distance with which it approaches these attitudes and, as is Apatow’s wont, settles for sympathizing with its spoiled, oblivious characters.

Even the critics who don’t think The Bubble quite hit its mark say that the A-list cast provides some laughs. If you’d like to see for yourself how strong you think Judd Apatow’s penchant for satire is, this movie is available for streaming now with a Netflix subscription. Also be sure to check out these other movies on Netflix, as well as our 2022 Movie Release Schedule to start planning your next movie night!

Heidi Venable
Content Producer

Mom of two and hard-core '90s kid. Unprovoked, will quote Friends in any situation. Thrives on New Orleans Saints football, The West Wing and taco trucks.