Synopsis – Despite his devotion to his hometown of Salem (and its Halloween celebration), Hubie Dubois is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something is going bump in the night, and it’s up to Hubie to save Halloween.
My Take – If you thought by starring in the relentless crime thriller Uncut Gems, which earned him some of the best reviews of his career, Adam Sandler would be more cautious about his future choices, well the joke is on you, as he is unapologetically back to his old tricks.
Re-teaming with director Steven Brill (The Do-Over, Sandy Wexler) and Netflix, here, Sandler is firmly back in his comfort zone in the form of another feel-good harmless bit of all-star nonsense, with a low-key smack down on bullying and a major focus on being as goofy as possible, that doesn’t bother treading new territory even in the name of Spooky season.
Although this one is geared a little more toward teens and offers a little whodunit amid all the ridiculous slapstick and horror-flavored shenanigans, to most it will like every Adam Sandler comedy you’ve seen, just with an added stupid voice.
However, personally I feel the film does deserve credit for being ultimately more bearable than his previous Netflix ventures, and for coming a close second to Murder Mystery in the likability department. Plus it has a decent amount of humor in it that surprisingly lands, making it a worthy addition to the Adam Sandler universe.
The story follows Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler), a social outcast who lives with his crude graphic tee-obsessed mother (June Squibb), in the town of Salem, Massachusetts. He also has had a crush on fellow townie Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen) since, well, forever, holds a job at the local deli where customers and coworkers alike make his life as scary as possible. Yet despite everything Hubie, a self-appointed safety monitor, spends every Halloween dedicating to keeping the townspeople safe on the spookiest night of the year.
However, this time something much more sinister than mean-spirited pranks is afoot, as people all around town start disappearing. And with no one taking his cautions seriously including Sgt. Steve Downey (Kevin James), Hubie decides to take it into his own hands to get to the bottom of the mystery on his own.
What ensues is a series of gross-out bits, pratfalls, goofy jump scares, and continued disbelief of Hubie, who does his best to keep it together under the circumstances. Even when Hubie is trying to do something legitimately noble, the people around him can’t help but try and give him a good scare.
As one would expect from an Adam Sandler film, it is packed with stars, insults, and gags, most of which work, and can keep the film throughout entertaining. We’ve also got the endless pratfalls, the fart and pee jokes, the insane dodging of everything thrown at him whether he’s riding a bike or running by foot, the thermos that serves as a shovel, dust buster, umbrella, and more, bits here and there that feel quintessentially Sandler.
And much like many of Sandler’s other comedies, there’s an unwavering earnestness here, even during the film’s more bonkers sequences. It’s not self-serious or mean, like so many other comedies these days, and it is totally self-aware.
There is a solid mystery at the core of this story too. It’s a mystery because this film jumps from point to point so sporadically that anticipating who did what to who is nearly impossible, yet a decent mystery nonetheless.
In a surprising turn of events, the film is not necessarily as mindless as its many pratfalls and pranks would lead you to believe. Underneath the clever but cruel nicknames and belligerent mockery of our protagonist is an important lesson that viewers of all ages can come to appreciate about kindness will always prevail and that’s a sentiment I think we can all get behind.
While the film doesn’t exactly juggle its large ensemble well, they all seem to be having a blast nonetheless. Adam Sandler is painfully earnest, and continues to project his unfailing likability and charm here once again. Though his voice can be a bit of an annoyance after a while, Sandler does bring humanity to the character in a nice, if corny, sort of way. Julie Bowen is particularly great as Violet, Ray Liotta gets some of the funniest bits as a cackling town bully, even June Scibb and her increasingly awful shirt-sayings have their draws at times, nevertheless, it is Steve Bechumi who steals the show in every scene he takes a part of, and is the most enjoyable part of this film.
In other roles, Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Noah Schnapp, Karan Brar, Paris Berelc, China Anne McClain, Michael Chiklis, Kenan Thompson, Rob Schneider, Colin Quinn, Betsy Sodaro, Blake Clark, George Wallace, Dan Patrick, and Shaquille O’Neal all make for a fun time. Even Ben Stiller reprising his role as Hal L from Happy Gilmore is a treat. On the whole, ‘Hubie Halloween’ is an entirely harmless fun family film that is gross, goofy and exactly what you would expect from an Adam Sandler film.
Directed – Steven Brill
Rated – PG13
Run Time – 102 minutes