The title of this film feels so apt when you see how cobbled together the film as a whole feels. (See what I did there?) Adam Sandler stars as a Jewish New Yorker Max who works in his fathers cobbling business, and lives with his mother. He’s a flat, dull man until he discovers that the old machine in the basement is magic, and that when he uses it on a pair of shoes, he can wear them and become that person, literally walking a mile in their shoes. We are apprised of the machines existence through a fairytale like opening sequence in which the story and powers of the machine are told.
Sounds like a cute comedy, right? You know what to expect, with Sandler at the helm, cue slapstick and immature humour… Well, actually, don’t. This film is kind of dark. Sandler is a sad, subdued presence. And the film has a lot of longing and loss, especially as we come to understand that the father (Dustin Hoffman, what are you doing in this film?) who owns the business disappeared, abandoning his wife and son, who have missed him desperately, never really recovering.
With his new found magic powers, Max does all the immature things you’d expect, from romping through other people’s lives, driving their cars and flirting with girls in the guise of being a better looking and wealthier man. But Sandler is kind of old, and played the way it is, it feels darkly comic, rather than madcap. It feels desperate. And also, a bit off. Sneaking into a man’s apartment to watch his girlfriend in the shower is really creepy. He’s not exactly a nice guy.
Maybe that sounds like a bad thing, but actually, it’s not. It feels like it could have been something better, a new Adam Sandler, exploring deeper themes, with humour. But it fails to quite take off. It feels like the film was rewritten by different hands, and the themes don’t quite gel. It’s marketed as a classic Sandler comedy, but the film isn’t bright, and when it isn’t it’s at it’s best. The brightness feels forced, shoe horned in. Most especially the ending. After all the things that have gone on, it just doesn’t make any sense. A lot of the plot doesn’t make sense.
There is something about this film that I really enjoyed, and I think it could have been something really special, if the ending hadn’t messed it up entirely. Clearly there was something that drew in Hoffman, Method Man, Steve Buscemi and Ellen Barkin, who could all have done a lot better.
EXTRAS: A fairly standard Behind The Scenes documentary, which gives some insight into the film and the actors.