Hubie Halloween is available Wednesday, October 7 on Netflix.
Though Netflix might be in the business of unceremoniously ending most of its shows these days, it’s still “all in” when it comes to Adam Sandler movies, having already extended the shockingly generous deal it had with the comedian for four more films and another enormous pile of cash. Meanwhile, the sixth and final film from the original Sandler deal, Hubie Halloween, launches this week and, well, the good news is it’s not a noxious mess.
It’s not as good as the best film in Sandler’s Netflix oeuvre, which was Murder Mystery, but it’s also heaps better than (arguably) his worst Netflix outing, The Ridiculous 6. Despite gags involving vomit, feces, urine, and other Sandler film staples/secretions, Hubie Halloween is generally a family film, one that harkens back to the likes of early projects such as Billy Madison and The Waterboy. In fact, Sandler’s man-child “Hubie” Dubois (full name: Hubert Shubert Dubois) is such a mash up of SNL’s Canteen Boy and The Waterboy’s Bobby Boucher that it was easy to assume, when he walks through the door of his house, that his mom would be played by Kathy Bates (she’s played by June Squibb, and Hubie has a thermos, not a canteen).
Hubie, who lives in Salem, Mass, and whose lineage dates back to the wrong end (meaning fiery end) of the Witch Trials, is the local dork who loves Halloween and acts like a perpetual safety monitor for the town, causing most around him to hurl insults and debris (and axes?) at him. He longs for his high school crush, Violet Valentine (Modern Family’s Julie Bowen), but he’s never had the courage to ask her out. Fortunately, she already loves him back too so no real work needs to be done narratively in this area of the film.
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On this particular Halloween however, with Hubie suffering the usual slings and arrows from his piggish fellow citizens, the town will have to deal with a Michael Myers-styled escaped lunatic, a possible werewolf, and mysterious kidnappings. These could either all be connected somehow or simply misunderstandings and pranks.
Needless to say, Hubie has his hands full as the self-appointed monitor for Halloween safety and as someone who continually puts others’ happiness ahead of his own. One thing that easily earns this Sandler joint a few more points is that the messaging is sweet and kind. It’s about the strength it takes to be charitable and caring and how it’s always the truly weak who bully and abuse. Naturally, to get to that candy center you’ll have to endure dozens of jokes falling flat, a bunch of people falling down, and Hubie falling for every single Halloween prank — each one making him scream in abject terror.
Actually, that last part, where Hubie sort of violently overreacts to every fake ghost and ghoul he sees is one of the movie’s most endearing, and exuberant, running gags. I’m not ashamed to say I chuckled a few times here, over some diabolically dumb s***, but that’s because there are actual attempts at traditional comedy in Hubie Halloween and not just Sandler’s penchant for presenting us with the lowest common denominator.
Also, aside from Happy Madison company regulars like Steve Buscemi and Rob Schneider (and I guess Kevin James too), this movie has a ton of very talented people popping up in amusingly minuscule parts, from SNL’s Melissa Villaseñor, Mikey Day, and Keenan Thompson to grizzled old-guard comedians like Colin Quinn and George Wallace. Also…Ray Liotta? Who I guess is part of this crazy lot now? (All of this is to say that the best cameo, which is a fun Happy Gilmore callback, happens during the first minute of the film.)
Bowen has the privilege/chore of playing the one person in town who not only sees value in Hubie because he’s nice but is also, yes, head over heels in love with him. Yes, the woman who lusts for the quirky dolt is another time-honored Sandler tradition observed here. The story, if it’s at all worth paying attention to, sort of crumbles apart in the third act when the true menace of Salem is revealed, but it neither ruins the movie nor does it make an impact in any meaningful way. The movie is designed to be brainless and sweet and anything remotely clever to arise from it is kind of a happy accident.
Source: IGN.com Netflix's Hubie Halloween Review