First of all, I want to express my deep disappointment that Adam Sandler’s character, Hubie, in Hubie Halloween is not, in fact, named Hubie Halloween. Honestly, part of the reason I was somewhat looking forward to watching this movie was based on this assumption alone. Hubie Halloween could have joined Lloyd Christmas as two of the funniest character names in comedic history. But, no, Hubie is indeed Hubie Dubois – a man not named Hubie Halloween who kind of talks like a combination of Sandler’s Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy and Stephen Root’s Milton from Office Space. (Yes, it’s one of those movies where Sandler is doing “a voice” the whole time.)
Look, I like Adam Sandler comedies. (I still maintain That’s My Boy is hilarious.) But my mileage varies when Sandler does “a voice.” The first Sandler movie I didn’t like was Little Nicky (which was directed by Hubie Halloween’s Steven Brill), which set off a string of hits and misses for me that were largely based on if Sandler was playing a version of himself (which I like) or doing “a funny voice” (which I find … trying). When Sandler plays it at least somewhat straight (it’s kind of a stretch to call Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore straight roles, but compared to a movie when he’s spouting gibberish the whole time, they then qualify) I find him pretty irresistible. It almost doesn’t matter how much dumb madness is thrown at the screen because Sandler can make it work on pure charm alone. But when he’s not “himself,” this is tougher to pull off.
I’ve noticed a lot of people, particularly critics, have a strange relationship with Adam Sandler. And I’ll admit, I most definitely have a strange relationship with him as an actor. It’s weird, it’s like I just want the best for him, but when I see him making, what I perceive as, “dumb comedies,” I have a tendency to just think of what else he could be doing with his time – chasing down the forever Sandler white whale, Punch Drunk Love. Or at least I used to, a few years ago, when all he was doing was making comedies. I guess I was worried he had given up on his more challenging roles. But now there’s been enough of a steady stream of “good” Sandler movies, something like Hubie Halloween doesn’t annoy me as much because I know how much he actually enjoys making movies like Hubie Halloween. As long as he still makes an occasional Uncut Gems, I can live with a few Hubie Halloweens. Oh and don’t get me wrong, I totally found Hubie Halloween annoying, but the difference is I found it annoying as a movie, not annoying for just existing.
And to be fair, I didn’t find it entirely annoying. For most of the film, I found myself laughing, then immediately followed by being repulsed or saying out loud, “yikes.” There’s funny stuff in the film, but it’s surrounded by so much nonsense that the laughs sound something like, “a haaaa oh.” When we first meet Hubie Dubios, he’s riding his bike through Salem, Massachusetts as local punks throw eggs at him. Hubie is a middle-aged man who never grew out of being a bullied teen. Hubie catches the eggs in his thermos and makes it into a makeshift breakfast, which is kind of cute and clever. Then Hubie vomits.
It’s unclear if Hubie actually likes Halloween or not. His motivation in life seems to be that everyone has a safe Halloween. The front yard of his house, where he lives with his mother (June Squibb), is fully decorated for Halloween, though the slightest thing scares Hubie. Actually, it’s a pretty funny running joke that every fake ghost and goblin in town scares Hubie, to the point he screams in terror every time, even at the decorations in his own house. But things start to go awry after a convict escapes the local mental hospital and people in town start to go missing. (For some reason the convict’s identity is kept a secret until the end of the movie, but I’ll go ahead and save you the disappointment to find out he’s played by Rob Schneider. And this has nothing really to do with Schneider, other than it’s not really much of a surprise Rob Schneider pops up in an Adam Sandler movie.) And, of course, there’s a love story thrown on for good measure as Hubie has a crush on a local divorcee, Violet (Julie Bowen, which isn’t the only Happy Gilmore reunion in this movie), and has to deal with her ex-husband, a local police officer, played by Kevin James, who suspects Hubie is responsible for the missing town people.
When Hubie Halloween finished, my initial reaction was, “whatever.” It’s sometimes funny. It’s sometimes stupid. But now it’s graded on the always reliable, “Well, for a little under two hours I wasn’t thinking about the world” curve. It’s not a good movie. But it’s not a bad movie. It’s probably exactly what you think it’s going to be. I mean, it’s on Netflix right now, so there’s already a decent chance you’ve seen it because what else could you possibly be doing? But if you haven’t seen it, would I say you’ll like it? Eh? Probably not? But will it kill two more hours of 2020? Yes. Yes, it will. And in that way, Hubie Halloween is a smashing success.
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