'Hubie Halloween' Review
October 15, 2020
Last year, Adam Sandler said that if he didn’t win an Oscar for his role as Howard Ratner in the Safdie brother’s film Uncut Gems, he would then make the worst movie of his career on purpose. It was a bold claim to make, especially considering Sandler is the one responsible for Jack and Jill and Pixels, two movies that almost made me quit watching movies altogether.
Oscar nomination morning came in January and Sandler’s name wasn’t called when they announced the Best Actor lineup. I gasped and immediately checked Sandler’s IMDb page and noticed that he had a new movie called Hubie Halloween that would premiere October 7. I knew that day would be the day of reckoning, the day Sandler would take his revenge on all of us. October 7 arrived and Hubie Halloween premiered on Netflix as promised. To my surprise, the movie was only passably bad and not the ungodly abomination we were led to believe.
Hubie Halloween takes place over the spookiest month of the year in Salem, Massachusetts. Hubie Dubois (Sandler) is the town’s self-appointed Halloween safety monitor. Because of his overall demeanor and lack of style, Hubie is the most bullied person in town. But this year’s Halloween will be like no other as a mental patient has escaped from the local lockup and town residents are disappearing one-by-one throughout the night. Like all underdog stories, it’s up to Hubie to save Halloween. And as always, there’s a love interest that is way out of his league that he will attempt to win over.
If you’re familiar with Sandler’s filmography, you’ll notice that the cast is stacked with the usual crowd of Sandler’s buddies and Saturday Night Live alums. Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Steve Buscemi, June Squibb, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Julie Bowen, and Shaquille O’Neal round out the supporting cast here.
Trying to fit all these characters and give them their own little moments makes Hubie Halloween a tiresome experience. Even at 102 minutes (with 15 of those minutes for the credits), much of the runtime feels padded to make way for one-note gags about physical deformities and poop & pee jokes. At least there isn’t the casual racism and sexism that Sandler used to parade around in his movies. He is growing up; just really, really slowly.
What hasn’t grown up is Sandler’s schtick. Like Will Ferrell and Jim Carrey, Sandler’s brand of humor doesn’t age well once you pass the age of 20. It also doesn’t help that Sandler is now 54 years old and has been playing the same character for nearly four decades.
Hubie Dubois is a near replication of Sandler’s role as Bobby Boucher from 1998’s The Waterboy. Like Bobby, Hubie lives with his oblivious mother and talks with a weird mumbly accent. At least Bobby’s accent was explained as that movie took place in Louisiana. Hubie’s weird manner of speaking is never explained and exponentially grates as time goes on. It’s both commendable and sad to see Sandler play a loser for what seems like the one-millionth time.
While any praise given to Hubie Halloween is minor in scale, it is worth mentioning. The moments where the movie steps away from reality and enters more surreal territory make for enjoyable bits. Hubie’s seemingly magic thermos - which acts as a vacuum, flashlight, megaphone, and grappling hook - does provide a chuckle here and there.
Some of the supporting performances within Hubie Halloween do provide some slight fun. Steve Buscemi is allowed to embrace his cooky self as an elderly werewolf who has just moved next door to Hubie. June Squibb is also great as Hubie’s mother. Unawarely dressed in sexually promiscuous t-shirts, Squibb plays the usual mother role quite well. Even though her character would fail the Bechdel test in a heartbeat, Julie Bowen does some pleasant work as Hubie’s love interest. Rob Schneider and Maya Rudolph are great because they limit their dialogue to only a few lines. The more they speak, the worse the movie gets.
Considering how 2020 has gone so far, Adam Sandler delivering his worst movie would have fit right in. Thankfully, the Sandman let us off easy and only gave us an inoffensively bad movie that could have been a lot worse. Maybe it was all part of his master plan to quell our expectations and have us grade this on a curve. Whatever the reason may be, I’ll count my blessings and pray that Sandler doesn’t try to deliver on his promise anytime soon.