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it's difficult to expect much from a director whose greatest accomplishments to date are a handful of " award-winning " tv commercials , as is the case with bubble boy director blair hayes .
that said , hayes's feature film debut lives up to expectations , coming off mainly as equal parts offensive and moronic .
but occasionally , bubble boy transcends its substandard roots with glimmers of humor and scathing social commentary .
those moments of intelligence are delivered mostly by the film's two stars , jake gyllenhall as the immuno-deficient jimmy and swoosie kurtz as his over-protective , hyper religious , reagan-loving mother .
gyllenhall's sweet-natured delivery of jimmy's hilariously na ? ve narration serves as the backbone for an otherwise flimsy coming-of-age story : jimmy is a bubble boy , a kid born without immunity who could die if he comes in contact with a single germ -- a plight explored more seriously in the john travolta tv movie boy in the plastic bubble and less so on seinfeld .
his mom home-schools jimmy , filling his head with wildly twisted conservative propaganda and anti-sexual messages , until he's befriended by chloe ( marley shelton ) , the beautiful girl next door .
jimmy falls in love with chloe , but is afraid that his love will literally kill him , as evidenced in a scene when she drunkenly tries to enter his bubble for a kiss .
but when chloe decides to marry her high school boyfriend , jimmy builds a bubble suit and embarks on a hijinks-addled cross-country voyage to stop the wedding by professing his love .
the offensive bits have little to do with jimmy's rare handicap ( regardless of what the film's protesters would have you believe ) , but instead center on outrageous racial stereotypes , including a screaming chinese strip club owner and a devout east indian hindi .
but even if you find stereotype humor funny , it's hard to muster more than a giggle for these shallow gags .
they even manage to bungle some potentially great moments with a group of carnival freaks .
but a few of the harsh jabs manage to work , especially in the case of kurtz , who very bluntly shows the dark , hypocritical side of the religious right , and a wacky send-up of a cult called " bright 'n shiny , " led by the inimitable fabio .
unfortunately , a few giggles can't make bubble boy the riotous , off-the-wall comedy it so desperately wants to be .
honestly , it's a mystery how on earth this movie was ever made , and i'm not just saying that because it's so mediocre .
how odd for disney to take a gamble on a film with an unknown director starring virtually unknown actors that doesn't seem to appeal to any particular demographic and has the potential to offend so many .
and now that the studio is suffering through a very public protest against the film by the parents of real-life bubble boy david philip vetter , maybe disney's wondering the same thing .
hope the opening box office take makes it worthwhile .