Adam Sandler takes on everyone’s favorite holiday in the good-natured and typically ridiculous ‘Hubie Halloween’
It was inevitable, just a matter of time, before Adam Sandler tackled Halloween. Judging by Netflix’s strong viewership numbers, The Sandman made the right call. Hubie Halloween, which Sandler co-wrote, is part comedy (no surprise, overwhelmingly juvenile), part mystery (not Agatha Christie) and part horror (strictly G-rated). Anyone out of pre-school should be fine.
More than anything though, Hubie is an Adam Sandler movie.
Translation: expect the exact opposite of Aaron Sorkin’s The Trial of the Chicago 7. Hubie has all of Sandler’s signature trademarks, including a cast with many of his usual suspects. Steve Buscemi and Kevin James have prominent roles. In his sunglasses and ridiculous mullet and beard, James, who chows down like he just completed a two-week cleanse, is almost unrecognizable. Meanwhile, Rob Schneider’s role has no meat. Poor Colin Quinn has it worst of all. Until the closing credits, I was unaware that Quinn was even in the flick. He was wearing makeup in his sole, short scene. None of this matters though. This is an Adam Sandler movie, and it belongs to him.
Sandler’s good-natured doofus Hubie Dubois is at the center of the shenanigans. Hubie is the type of character that Sandman loyalists are very familiar with. With his clenched jaw, Hubie delivers childish dialogue with a dialect that sounds like a distant cousin of The Waterboy’s Bobby Boucher. Hubie works at the local deli, lives at home alone with his mom, is prone to inappropriate t-shirts (“Muff’s Diving School”), and gets bullied by just about his entire town of Salem, Massachusetts. For maybe a quarter of the flick, Salem meanies are hurling stuff at Hubie.
Hubie, however, doesn’t let any of this get to him. He has a purpose, a higher calling. As Salem’s self-appointed Halloween monitor, Hubie’s mission is to keep all safe on Halloween. But there’s a catch: Hubie is petrified of his own shadow. Fortunately, Sandman does terrified very well because he’s terrified for almost all of this. Amidst the G-rated terror, there’s a glimmer of hope for Hubie. Violet Valentine, a local waitress (a strong Julie Bowen), has been obsessed with Hubie since the first grade. Of course she is. But, of course, Hubie is too scared to make a move.
Anyway, this Halloween is different in Salem. There’s an escape from a mental institution and a weirdo neighbor (Buscemi) has moved in next door to Hubie. Then, Salem bullies start disappearing…Well, it’s a bit of a mess, but the pee jokes don’t stop coming.
Amidst all the infantile, shenanigans, Shaquille O’Neal plays a radio DJ with a unique, unexpected voice. George Wallace is Salem’s mayor. “Trick or treat, smell my feet!” is his big line. With a nod to his Escape at Dannemora, Ben Stiller shows up as a mental institution orderly. Hubie could’ve used more Ben. As one of the town’s most prominent bullies, Ray Liotta is convincing. However, as I watched him taunt Hubie, I couldn’t stop thinking of Goodfellas, now celebrating its 30th anniversary. How did Liotta go from this to that? Still, he suffers a better fate than Boston morning news personality Alaina Pinto, whose station fired her for appearing in the movie, which apparently violated her contract.
This Halloween will be like no other. In a universe where masks are the new norm, Hubie Halloween is a safe, ridiculous option.