Updated: Oct 26, 2020
Is this the terrible movie Adam Sandler promised us?
A socially inept, goofy character who has a heart of gold and a dreamy love interest? Seems familiar. In fact, I could be describing many Happy Madison productions but I am indeed describing Netflix's most recent "direct to Netflix" film, Hubie Halloween.
Hubie Halloween is a seasonal slapstick comedy about an easily frightened community volunteer who finds himself constantly ridiculed and pranked by everyone in the town of Salem. Only a select few treat our hero with any semblance of respect, setting up the perfect underdog story.
The film, which was directed by Steven Brill who has worked alongside Adam Sandler for a long time, never tries to be anything other than a rudimentary Happy Madison film. One could view this as lazy filmmaking and a half-assed attempt to fulfill his Netflix contract. Although, despite the generic plot, drawn-out pacing, and skin-deep characters, Hubie Halloween manages to pull out a few laughs and enjoyable moments. If you're a fan of Adam Sandler and his comedy, add this movie to your watchlist.
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Hubie Halloween takes place on Halloween night, surprising I know. Hubie (otherwise known as Pubie by the local residents) lives with his mother and spends his days greeting neighbors, working at a deli shop, and making daily reports of ANY suspicious activity to the police. All the while being pranked, attacked and ridiculed by the Salem residents. It's unclear why Hubie is so universally disliked. It's alluded to that part of the reason is because of his incessant snitching to the police but other than Hubie being the ideal target for bullies there isn't a defined reason.
This Halloween in Salem is different because it has an escaped mental patient walking the streets and several disappearing Salem residents. In the midst of all of this, Sergeant Downey (Kevin James) appoints Hubie the undercover agent for the local department in an effort to keep Hubie from bothering them for the night. This new role requires Hubie to no longer interact with the police and instead keep a detailed log that he is required to put in a designated drop off canister… or trash can. Thus begins a tumultuous and ridiculous night that has a predictably endearing end.
I'm not a fan of Adam Sandler’s humor. The goofy, absurd, and sometimes crude jokes aren't my schtick but a few running gags in this film always got a chuckle out of me. The unwarranted hate for Hubie leads to many scenes of Hubie dodging miscellaneous objects being thrown at him from off-screen. It even leads to a bicycle chase scene between Hubie and middle schoolers where they went from throwing eggs and pumpkins to throwing axes and bags of feces. This type of surreal but nuanced comedy was the most effective bit, even if they were scarce. The bulk of the humor was much more abrasive and repetitive. Brill seemed to rely on Adam Sandler’s stunt comedy and exaggerated screams which were played out after the first half-hour. Overall the humor can be described as some dumb good fun with many hits and misses.
The notable cast will have those who aren't laughing, on their toes anticipating which actor could be showing up next. While some actors got a lot to work with, others did not. Violet, played by Julie Bowen, is a one-note character. Her only role is to motivate our main hero to be himself and that is painfully obvious in every scene she’s in. Unfortunately, Julie Bowen gets the shortest end of the stick. Other actors like Steve Buscemi, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph, and Ray Liotta were much better utilized. There is also a very clever cameo that anyone who is a fan of Billy Madison can and will appreciate. Many Disney channel stars were also featured in the film like China Anne Mclain, Karan Brar, and Bradley Steven Perry. Why? I haven’t the faintest idea. Even Cameron Boyce was supposed to be in the film but regrettably died before filming.
The best thing about film and television in the modern age is the convenience of streaming. Instead of paying to see a film in theaters, you can just pay a monthly fee to watch the film at home. This model lowers our guard and expectations as audience members. It lends itself to films like these that don't have enough substance to be in theaters but are entertaining enough to be watched out of boredom. Last December, Adam Sandler claimed he would make the worst movie if he got snubbed at the Oscars for Uncut Gems, and in case you missed it… he did get snubbed. Is Hubie Halloween that movie? Not at all, but I am afraid of what Adam Sandler could’ve made if he was trying.
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