The Cobbler

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
The Cobbler Movie Poster Image
Interesting idea about empathy turns into disturbing fable.
  • PG-13
  • 2015
  • 99 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

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 & Representations

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.


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.


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.


Occasional strong language includes "s--t," "a--hole," and "bitch."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What 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.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byaliciaa1 May 17, 2015


Why is it that all of the black males in the movie are displayed in a negative manner? There are only two black men in the entire movie and one man steals din... Continue reading
Adult Written byAnnieL 1 May 16, 2015
Kid, 8 years old July 12, 2015

Dumb,pretty bloody comedy is entertaining but to much for young teens.

This comedy movie fallows Max, he is a cobbler who can change into people if he puts on there shoes. This comedy actually has lots of bloody violence, a charact... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJacob Hetfield April 17, 2019

What's the story?

THE COBBLER chronicles the life of fourth-generation Lower East Side cobbler Max Simkin (Adam Sandler). The working-class tradesman doesn't make a whole lot repairing shoes, but it's his birthright. What Max doesn't realize is that the ancient stitching machine in his shop's basement is magical. When he fixes an intimidating new customer's (Method Man) dress shoes with it and slips the size-10.5s on, Max transforms into the shoes' owner. At first Max is beyond freaked out, but he eventually tests the century-old machine on a bunch of other customers' shoes, only to discover that putting on any mended shoe in his size can transform him into someone new. Max realizes that stepping into someone else's shoes gives him plenty of opportunities -- unfortunately, it's mostly to commit crimes, which are petty at first but become increasingly disturbing.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about movies that connect history to the present. How does Max's ancestry affect his life? What are some other movies about immigrants and their descendants? Could this movie have been made featuring a different trade and culture?

  • What do you think of how The Cobbler depicts race, ethnicity, and class? Does the movie dispel or reinforce stereotypes?

  • How is violence treated in the movie? Is it casual, believable, realistic, or stylized? Do you think all of it is necessary to the story?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love offbeat movies

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