Hubie Halloween is a lot of things; a Halloween-themed comedy (*cough*), mystery about an oddball, Halloween-loving deli worker in the town of Salem, Massachusetts who must save its citizens from a kidnapper. I don’t expect much from Adam Sandler movies these days because, let’s be honest, his best days doing comedy are long gone. However he’s somehow managed to show that low bars can always be lowered and cringe can become more cringeworthy.
It’s the day before Halloween and Salem’s official Halloween Helper, Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler), is ready to carry out his duties of monitoring and protecting the citizens of his town, despite being treated like crap by just about everyone. When he’s not doing his dayjob of being a delicatessen employee, he’s riding around town on his pushbike looking to help people and report potential trouble to Sgt. Steve Downey (Kevin James), a police officer who wishes Hubie would stop bothering him.
Tensions rise when people in Salem learn that a convict, Richie Hartman (Rob Schneider), has escaped from a mental institution and could potentially return to the town that helped lock him away. Add to the mix Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi), Hubie’s new secretive neighbor who’s behaving very strangely along with people being kidnapped on Halloween day and you’ve got a scenario in dire need of a hero.
Armed with his fierce determination and his trusty Swiss Army thermos (yes, you read that right) that has a tool for every occasion, Hubie sets out to save the day and hopefully find the courage to ask out his lifelong crush Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen) while he’s at it.
It’s hard to decide which element in Hubie Halloween is worse: the “comedy” or Adam Sandler’s performance. Sandler is so painful to watch with his difficult to understand mumbling voice and forced attempts at being funny I felt embarrassed for him – and the overall film in general. I wanted to ask Netflix for a refund for this month’s subscription.
It seems Sandler’s approach to creating the Hubie character was to take his Bobby Boucher, Jr. character from 1998’s The Waterboy, remove the sport elements and ramp up his mumbly speech to the point where, half the time, you don’t know what he’s saying. It’s shameful how lazy and half-assed this is. I guess he doesn’t really have to try anymore, he’s got his deal with Netflix.
The other glaringly terrible element in Hubie Halloween is the lack of comedy for a film that’s supposed to be a comedy. There’re so many jokes and slapstick gags that never hit the mark that it makes you wonder if any professional comedians were involved in developing this film. It’s hard to believe Sandler co-wrote this dreck with Tim Herlihy, who wrote some of Sandler’s better early films like Happy Gilmore, The Wedding Singer and Little Nicky. I guess the magic is gone.
The lack of comedy aside, the one thing director Steven Brill (Little Nicky, Sandy Wexler) did get right was establishing the Halloween vibe in this version of Salem, Massachusetts. The costumes, locations and lighting all looked great and really provided a solid visual experience for this genre. You really get a sense of a town that owns the spirit of Halloween, albeit obsessively so. I guess that counts as something.
Hubie Halloween is worth watching if you want to see how the mighty have fallen, which is all the more disappointing considering Sandler was considered an Oscar contender just last year. If you’re a sucker for cringe performances and failed comedy then this absolute trainwreck of a movie is for you. Of course, it’s on Netflix so you’ll have plenty of other, better, options if you spend a little time searching their queue of horror classics. Don’t get tricked with Hubie and treat yourselves to something better than this mess.