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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The idea of walking in someone else's shoes to learn empathy (in this case, literally) is a worthy one, but the positive potential of the movie's message is largely undermined by the fact that, for much of the movie, Max uses his special ability to commit crimes and do other ugly things (including taking advantage of stereotypes).
Positive Role Models
Although the main character isn't a great role model, he ends up trying to right his many wrongs. Supporting character Carmen is a community activist who's trying to help the small business owners and old-school residents of the Lower East Side. Mr. Solomon sticks to his convictions and refuses to sell out to a huge developer. Stereotypes come into play.
Violence & Scariness
Characters are mugged, beaten, tortured, jolted with electricity, stabbed, and killed. A woman makes it clear that her ex had been physically abusing her. One of the people Max can turn into is dead, so he looks like a zombie and scares people when he's in that guise. While disguised as a woman's lover, Max almost takes advantage and has sex with her.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Max and Jimmy admire a model's body. When Max gets the chance to impersonate the model's boyfriend, he nearly showers/has sex with her but stops himself.
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Occasional strong language includes "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch."
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Cobbler is a quirky dramedy with fantasy elements starring Adam Sandler as a fourth-generation cobbler on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Unlike many of Sandler's other movies, this isn't a lowbrow comedy with sports and bodily fluid jokes: It's a story about birthright, community, and what it takes to understand someone else's life. But there's also a lot of casual violence that's occasionally depicted humorously but is no less disturbing. People are stabbed, choked, kidnapped, tortured, and killed. A man almost impersonates a woman's lover to have sex with her, and the language is occasionally strong, with "s--t," "bitch," and "a--hole" peppered here and there. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
The Cobbler opens with much promise in 1903, when the Lower East Side was historically populated by Jewish Eastern European immigrants and tradesmen. It then fast forwards to the present, connecting the dots between original cobbler Pinchas and his great-grandson, Max, a sad sack who doesn't appreciate his trade or his neighborhood the way his ancestor did. But the film's initial promise is squandered in a story that doesn't reveal anything about humanity except that people will do ugly things and take advantage of stereotypes if given the chance to disguise themselves as lots of different people.
While this isn't the worst Sandler star vehicle, and the comedian is certainly capable of serious acting, The Cobbler doesn't really showcase his range ... or work as a drama. Director Thomas McCarthy wastes most of his supporting talent, from Ellen Barkin, Dustin Hoffman, and Steve Buscemi to former Downton Abbey star Dan Stevens and Melonie Diaz (Fruitvale Station). If you're looking for an entertaining or meaningful look at Jewish-American immigrants in New York, skip this and see The Pawnbroker, Hester Street, The Chosen, or Ragtime.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.