07 October 2020 18:41
A few questions to ask yourself before watching "Hubie Halloween": How long and loud are you liable to laugh at the sight of 90-year-old June Squibb wearing a T-shirt bearing the words "Boner Donor?" What about one saying "I Shaved My Balls For This?" Or "If You Can Read This, You're In Fart Range"? That's about as good as the running gags get in Adam Sandler's latest Netflix joint, which isn't especially quick or funny even by the comedian's basic standards — but is also too cheerfully, indifferently silly to raise much ire. Anyway, it's Halloween in Hubie's hometown of Salem, and if you think the film isn't going to draw a connection between the 1692 witch trials and the modern-day locals' persistent bullying of über-naive Hubie, you have either under- or over-estimated it. "I feel a lot of pressure to be cool all the time," admits one of Hubie's bullies, "but I'm jealous of your ability to be yourself." Some of Sandlers' peers may say the same to him: He has little reputation to risk on candy corn like "Hubie Halloween," and his fans love him all the more for it. Every single Sandler profile and interview underlined the point, and any ill will for the mediocre-to-bad comedies he's made were difficult to hang onto after he acknowledged his reputation in his Independent Spirit Award speech ("I'd like to also give a shout-out to my fellow nominees, who will now and forever be known as the guys who lost to fucking Adam Sandler") and his pronouncement on the Howard Stern Show that, if he didn't win an Oscar for Uncut Gems, he'd make a movie that was "so bad on purpose." That sense of love for Sandler carries into his latest film, Hubie Halloween, right up until, seconds after he appears on screen, he drinks three eggs and promptly projectile vomits.
Hubie Halloween, directed by Steven Brill (Little Nicky, Sandy Wexler), is not the bad movie that Sandler threatened — principal photography took place months before Uncut Gems was released — but it isn't, say, Billy Madison, either. Sandler stars as Hubie Dubois, a resident of Salem, Massachusetts who spends every Halloween as a defacto holiday hall monitor, making sure that no real tricks are pulled while people look for treats. But Hubie Halloween isn't a movie that most are going to pick because they're looking for an engrossing mystery. Hubie Halloween is full of that kind of puerile humor, made as entertaining as possible by a surprisingly stacked cast: Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, June Squibb, Michael Chiklis, Ray Liotta, and Kevin James are among the other grown-up stars, with Stranger Things' Noah Schnapp heading up the teen contingent. Hubie Halloween doesn't ultimately have too much to offer besides a brief, minimally spooky distraction, but it's better than some of Sandler's other Netflix flicks (The Do-Over, The Ridiculous 6).
Sandler stars as Hubie, a guy who is dedicated to keeping his hometown of Salem as safe as possible on Halloween night, but between the criminal on the loose, a spooky neighbor, the threat of bullies, and a general mysterious vibe floating through the town, Hubie and his magical thermos certainly have their work cut out for them. According to Netflix, the official Hubie Halloween rating is PG-13 for "crude and suggestive content, language, and brief teen partying." Just like his previous films Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore were a huge hit with the tween and teen crowds back when they were released over 20 years ago, Hubie could be similar — even if some of the jokes may fly over the heads of younger, more innocent viewers. Along the way, Hubie gets entangled with his age-appropriate crush since the 2nd grade, Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen), and her three foster children – the oldest of whom is played by Stranger Things star Noah Schnapp – and butts heads with a variety of dismissive local characters played by the likes of Ray Liotta, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph, Kevin James, and Michael Chiklis, all of whom appear to be having the time of their lives aboard another Happy Madison joint.