The Cobbler (2014 film)

The Cobbler is a 2014 American magic realism comedy-drama film directed by Tom McCarthy and co-written by McCarthy with Paul Sado. The film stars Adam Sandler, Dan Stevens, Dustin Hoffman and Steve Buscemi. It was screened in the Special Presentations section at the 2014 Toronto International Film Festival.[4] The film was released on March 13, 2015, by Image Entertainment. The film was panned by critics and was a box office bomb.

The Cobbler
Theatrical release poster
Directed byTom McCarthy
Produced by
Written by
  • Tom McCarthy
  • Paul Sado
Music by
CinematographyW. Mott Hupfel III
Edited byTom McArdle
Distributed byImage Entertainment
Release date
  • September 11, 2014 (2014-09-11) (TIFF)
  • March 13, 2015 (2015-03-13) (United States)
Running time
98 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
  • English
  • Yiddish
Budget$10 million[2]
Box office$1.2 million[3]


In the Lower East Side of New York City in 1903, a group of Jewish men are gathered in the shop of a cobbler to discuss a problem that has been plaguing them. A crook named Gergerman has been running their businesses out and harassing the men and their families. The men hand over a pair of Gergerman's shoes to the cobbler, Pinchas Simkin. Pinchas takes the shoes to the basement of his shop and uses a special stitching machine to work on the shoes. His young son Herschel enters, and Pinchas explains to him the importance of the machine.

In the present day, the great-grandson of Pinchas and the grandson of Herschel, Max Simkin works as the cobbler in the shop. His work neighbor is Jimmy, who operates the barber shop next door. A young woman named Carmen Herrera comes in to tell Max that she is working with the community of the Lower East Side to prevent big time developers from tearing down parts of the neighborhood to build huge complex buildings. Max doesn't seem to care at all what happens to the shop. Max lives at home with his ailing mother Sarah. The two of them wish they could see Max's father one more time.

Local thug Leon Ludlow brings his shoes to the shop for Max to replace the soles in his shoes. Max's current stitching machine fails, so he uses the old one. Out of curiosity, he checks Ludlow's shoe size; it's 10 1/2, the same as Max. Max tries the shoes on, and to his surprise, he transforms into Ludlow. He uses the machine on other shoes, and realizes what he can do with this.

Max uses this newfound ability to live as someone else. He goes to Chinatown as a Chinese man to enjoy the day. He then goes to a restaurant as another man and leaves without paying for his meal. Taryn, a young woman, brings in the shoes of her British boyfriend Emiliano, and Max uses them. As Emiliano, Max goes to a bar and is noticed by beautiful women. One woman approaches him and notes that she saw him somewhere leaving with a man. Max goes to Emiliano's home as Emiliano, and finds Taryn taking a shower. She invites him to join her. He eagerly starts to undress until he realizes if he takes off even one shoe, he will no longer be Emiliano, so he leaves. Max decides to make his mother happy by using the shoes of his father Abraham, the grandson of Pinchas and the son of Herschel. He has dinner with Sarah as Abraham and gives her one more night of happiness.

The next morning, Max finds that Sarah has died. He and his family sit shiva for the week. When he returns to work, Ludlow demands that he get his shoes back or he'll kill Max. Using several pairs of shoes to disguise himself, Max follows Ludlow to his apartment. Using Ludlow's shoes, he meets Ludlow's girlfriend Macy, who has apparently been abused by Ludlow. Max searches Ludlow's room for his valuable watches, which he takes; he also finds a cache of guns and other weapons. The real Ludlow returns and starts to strangle Max (still wearing Ludlow's shoes) until Max zaps him with a taser. Ludlow-Max goes with two thug associates of Ludlow to an area where they are holding a man captive for stealing from them. The thugs are about to kill the captive on Ludlow's orders until Ludlow-Max tells them to let the man go. They then take Ludlow-Max to meet slum lord Elaine Greenawalt. She gives Ludlow-Max a large amount of money to buy out a man living in Max's building.

Max goes back to Ludlow's home wearing the stilettos of a transsexual woman. Ludlow attacks him, but stops in surprise when Max removes a shoe and reverts to himself. Ludlow attacks Max again, and Max accidentally sticks the other stiletto in Ludlow's neck, killing him. Max turns himself in to the police, but when they return to the apartment, Ludlow's body is gone, and the blood is cleaned up. The police leave Max alone and confused. Jimmy confronts Max about his recent odd behavior. He tells Max that his father did the same thing before he disappeared, and that he kept this a secret from Max to protect him.

Max goes with Carmen to the apartment of Mr. Solomon, the man that Greenawalt is trying to buy out. He refuses to leave, as he has lived there for decades and even raised his daughter there. Max comes up with a plan to trick Greenawalt into giving him a large amount of money while still letting Solomon keep his home. When Greenawalt realizes she's been played, she goes to Solomon's home and threatens him with murder. She is caught on camera by a local news reporter, and she is later arrested. Max's life starts to go back to normal. Carmen goes into the shop and invites him out to dinner, which Max accepts. He later goes to Ludlow's home as Ludlow to return the watches to Macy, and he tells her that he's sorry and that she deserves better. As he leaves, he is abducted by a group of men led by the same man that stole from Ludlow's gang. They are about to drive off when their car is struck.

Max wakes up in Jimmy's barber shop. Jimmy offers him some water and a pickle, stating that pickles help with the transition from one body to another. Max asks how he knew about that, and Jimmy takes off his shoes to reveal that he is actually Abraham, his father. The real Jimmy sends his regards from the Caribbean Islands. Both elated and angry, Max hugs his dad. Abraham brings him to the basement to show him a huge collection of shoes that he's gathered over the years. Abraham then takes Max to his limo and rides with him through the city as he starts to tell him the story of how the stitching machine came into their family's possession.



On September 19, 2013, Adam Sandler was in talks to join Tom McCarthy's The Cobbler, which began shooting in November 2013.[8] Voltage Pictures fully financed the film and it was produced by Mary Jane Skalski.[9] On November 12, 2013 Dan Stevens joined the cast.[5] Dustin Hoffman and Steve Buscemi also joined cast during shooting on November 18, 2013.[6] Other cast members include Melonie Diaz, Method Man, Sondra James, Kevin Breznahan, Greta Lee and Craig Walker.[6] On September 9, 2014, Image Entertainment acquired the US distribution rights to the film for $3.5 million.[10]


Principal photography began on November 11, 2013, in New York City,[11] before Sandler began his next project Men, Women & Children.[6]

Release and reception

The Cobbler was released in a limited release and through video on demand on March 13, 2015,[12] and since its release, it has been reported to be the biggest box-office flop of Adam Sandler's career – earning only $24,000 at the U.S. box office in its opening weekend.[13] Outside of North America, the film earned $1.2 million and another $2 million from domestic video sales.[3]

Critical response

The Cobbler has been panned by critics. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 9%, based on 64 reviews, with a weighted average score of 3.1/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "The Cobbler represents a slight step up from Adam Sandler's recent comedies, but while its cloying sentiment proves a more palatable substitute for his usual crass humor, it still isn't terribly compelling."[14] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 22 out of 100, based on reviews from 21 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[15]

Uri Klein of Haaretz pointed out that while The Cobbler is "one of the few times in Sandler's career in which he has chosen to work for a director with a certain pedigree", and "the plot has fantastical impersonation elements that links it to comedians of an earlier era, such as Jerry Lewis and Danny Kaye", the result is unsatisfying in terms of both plot and characters.[16] The A.V. Club chose the film as the worst film of 2015.[17] The Cobbler was discussed extensively on the October 22nd episode of Chapo Trap House during which the film was largely panned by the show's hosts.[18]

Jared Mobarak of The Film Stage gave the film a positive review, noting that "embraces its slightness to warm hearts" and praised Method Man in particular for his performance.[19]


The Cobbler was a litigant to lawsuit,[20] where an individual was accused of illegally downloading this movie.[21] The significance is that the judge ruled that the IP address provided by the Internet Service Provider did not meet the test to definitively associate a person with a specific activity.[22]


Award Category Nominee Result
Golden Raspberry Award Worst Actor Adam Sandler Nominated
Worst Screen Combo Nominated
Any pair of shoes Nominated
Saturn Awards Best DVD or Blu-ray Release Nominated


  1. "THE COBBLER (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. July 10, 2015. Retrieved July 10, 2015.
  2. Han, Angie (September 19, 2013). "Adam Sandler Joins 'The Cobbler' From 'Win Win' Director Thomas McCarthy". Retrieved March 15, 2015.
  3. "The Cobbler (2015)". The Numbers. Nash Information Services, LLC. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  4. "TIFF 2014 Adds 'The Cobbler,' 'Madame Bovary,' 'Sils Maria,' 'The Forger' And Many More". Indiewire. Retrieved September 4, 2014.
  5. Kroll, Justin (November 12, 2013). "Dan Stevens Joins Adam Sandler in Tom McCarthy's 'The Cobbler'". Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  6. Gallagher, Brian (November 18, 2013). "Dustin Hoffman and Steve Buscemi Join The Cobbler". Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  7. Andreeva, Nellie. "Dascha Polanco Promoted To Regular On 'Orange Is The New Black', Nicole Gale Anderson On 'Beauty & The Beast'". Retrieved June 15, 2014.
  8. "Adam Sandler in Talks to Star in Tom McCarthy's "The Cobbler"". September 19, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  9. Kay, Jeremy (October 3, 2013). "Voltage steps into The Cobbler". Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  10. Ford, Rebecca (September 9, 2014). "Toronto: Image Takes Adam Sandler's 'The Cobbler' for U.S." Retrieved September 10, 2014.
  11. "'The Cobbler', starring Adam Sandler, begins filming in New York City". November 7, 2013. Retrieved December 20, 2013.
  12. Tom McCarthy (November 12, 2014). "The Cobbler". Retrieved January 18, 2015.
  13. Yeung, Peter (March 17, 2015). "Adam Sandler: is The Cobbler his biggest flop yet?". Retrieved March 23, 2015.
  14. "The Cobbler". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved November 19, 2016.
  15. "The Cobbler Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  16. Klein, Uri (April 21, 2015). "How low can Adam Sandler's career go?". Haaretz. Retrieved March 20, 2015.
  17. D'Angelo, Mike; Dowd, A.A.; Hassenger, Jesse; Murray, Noel; Nayman, Adam; Schager, Nick; Vishnevetsky, Ignatiy (December 16, 2015). "The 20 worst films of 2015". A.V. Club. Retrieved September 9, 2016. 1. The Cobbler
    [...] The consensus winner (or is that loser?) of this year's bad movie crop, The Cobbler was the kind of commercial and critical failure that would stall even a well-regarded filmmaker's career.
  20. "Case docket: Cobbler Nevada, LLC v. Gonzales". Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  21. Edwards, Royel (June 28, 2016). "Judge Says IP Address Doesn't Prove Anything in Piracy Case". Gizmodo. Gizmodo, Inc. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
  22. Raul (June 26, 2016). "Two breathtaking first-time precedents demonstrate that copyright troll lawsuits cannot withstand meaningful judicial scrutiny". Fight © Trolls. Retrieved June 29, 2016.
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