Review: ‘Hubie Halloween’ (2020)

I am a sucker for Halloween-themed movies. It doesn’t matter if they are films meant for kids, adults, or a mixture of the two. As long as they aren’t of the “Disney Channel Original” variety, I’m apt to give them all a shot. I do this in part because Halloween is my favorite holiday, but also because it means I can still occasionally add a new gem to the annual rotation. Frankenweenie, Tales of Halloween, ParaNorman, and Hellions are all spooky season-centric flicks that have been released in the past decade that I now make a habit out of revisiting this time o’ year.

As for Adam Sandler? I grew up on his early comedies, but aside from his occasional dramatic roles, I skip out on his stuff these days. The man has his niche and he plays right to that crowd. More power to him for it. While they aren’t my cup of tea, I can’t fault a successful actor for wanting to give his fans what they want and get to have a lot of fun with his friends while doing it. That honestly sounds like a performer’s dream and I’m glad he’s living it.

Hubie Halloween is the man’s latest Netflix endeavor. Since 2015, Sandler has produced eight films for the streaming giant, six of which he has starred in himself. Hubie sees the man finally setting foot on the “comedian does a spooky comedy” path that has previously been taken by the likes of Bud Abbott & Lou Costello, Don Knotts, Gene Wilder, Jim Varney, and Tyler Berry, to name a few.

Sandler’s turn at bat sees the comedy titan playing a 40-something manchild who is likely on the spectrum and, predictably, is treated poorly by most of the people in his town, despite him being a good person. Hubie DuBois has a weird voice (because Sandler), lives with his mom, and is easily excitable. This makes him a massive target for any and all bullies that live in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Some of those bullies are kids (of the O’Doyle variety, naturally). Some are adults (Ray Liotta, Tim Meadows, Maya Rudolph). All of them are assholes.

Even the townsfolk who don’t actively antagonize Hubie can’t seem to stand him, especially the sheriff (Kevin James) and priest (Michael Chiklis). In fact, the only people who seem to treat him like an actual human being are his childhood crush (Julie Bowen) and the mysterious neighbor (Steve Buscemi) who just moved next door. Unfortunately for Hubie, bullies are the least of his problems. Not only is their an escaped lunatic loose in Salem on Halloween, but there might be a monster stalking the countryside as well. While Hubie realizes the danger inherent in these scenarios, nobody wants to take him seriously. Shenanigans ensue.

Comparing this film to classics like Abbott & Costello Meet Frankenstein or Young Frankenstein would be folly. Most movies can’t hit that level, so it’s foolish to hold anyone else to that sort of stand. Hubie‘s closer cinematic are Ernest Scared Stupid and Boo! A Madea Halloween. Where does it fall on that particular spectrum? Sadly, it lands way close to Tyler Perry’s Boo.

Jim Varney’s Ernest Scared Stupid, while not perfect, still has the sense to tell a story with actual holiday-tinged stakes. There really are monsters loose in Ernest’s town and they really will destroy it if left unchecked. This allows the hilarity to come not only from the lead’s histrionics, but also from the fact that he is an incredibly inept hero. When it comes to Boo and Hubie, we’re really only left with the histrionics and there’s only so many different ways that we can watch Sandler scream and flail his arms in the arm. It gets old REALLY fast.

Hubie Halloween is the kind of film where you should know from the drop whether or not you are going to be into it. If you’re sitting down with it to just watch Sandler & Co. goof around for an hour and forty-five minutes, you’ll pretty much get what you paid for. It doesn’t reinvent the wheel in that regard and it rehashes moments from his classics, but it will hit the requisite beats. If you’re hoping for something a bit more than that, you’re not going to find it here. Hopefully it will entertain you more than it did me.

Hubie Halloween is an original horror comedy. It was directed by Steven Brill, from a screenplay by Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler. The film was produced by Adam Sandler, Kevin Grady, and Allen Covert. It stars Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Kenan Thompson, Ray Liotta, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Michael Chiklis, Karan Brar, Paris Berelc, Noah Schnapp, Sadie Sandler, Sunny Sandler, George Wallace, Rob Schneider, and Shaquille O’Neal.

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