“Oh my God!” I said as I looked at what was new on Netflix, “A Halloween movie starring the guy from Uncut Gems!? THIS IS GOING TO BE INTENSE!”
Of course, as I’m sure you already guessed, Hubie Halloween might as well be taking place in a totally different universe from Uncut Gems. Uncut Gems was an intense drama that starred Adam Sandler as a man so self-destructive that he literally seems to spend the entire movie just daring death to reach out and take him. Hubie Halloween, on the other hand, is fairly laid back comedy featuring Adam Sandler playing yet another well-meaning manchild. The film features supporting performances from all the usual Happy Madison suspects, like Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, Ben Stiller, Maya Rudolph, Keenan Thompson, and Colin Quinn. It’s sentimental and it’s about thirty minute too long and the humor is often juvenile but also frequently funny.
Adam Sandler plays Hubie, who lives in Salem, Massachusetts with his mother (June Squibb). Hubie is the town eccentric, the type of guy who thinks that he’s protecting the entire town but who mostly just gets on everyone’s nerves. A lot of people make fun of Hubie (who they call Pubie). Pete Landolfa (Ray Liotta) may be mourning the recent death of his father but he still finds time to toss Hubie into an open grave. Not even Father Dave (Michael Chiklis) has much sympathy for Hubie. Hubie is the type of guy who goes down to the local school to give a speech on Halloween safety, just for the students (and teachers) to respond by throwing all of their food at him.
One of the few people who is nice to Hubie is his new neighbor, Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi). However, Hubie suspects that Walter might be a werewolf and when people start to disappear over the course of Halloween, Hubie suspects that Walter’s responsible. Meanwhile, the police (represented by a heavily bearded Kevin James) thinks that it might be Hubie, seeing as how everyone who has disappeared is also someone who has bullied him.
Then again, Richie Hartman (Rob Schneider) has just escaped from the local mental institution. Could he possibly have something to do with the mysterious happenings in Salem!?
When Adam Sandler won his Indie Spirit Award for Uncut Gems, he infamously announced that, if he didn’t get an Oscar nomination, he would get back at the Academy by making the worst film of all time. Well, Sandler was snubbed the Academy. (Though Sandler deserved that nomination — and probably nominations for The Meyerowtiz Stories, Funny People, and Punch-Drunk Love as well — it’s pretty obvious that the Academy is never going to nominate the star of That’s My Boy and Jack and Jill.) However, Hubie Halloween is certainly not the worst film ever made. It’s actually a rather likable and sweet-natured comedy, one in which the humor is definitely juvenile but, in contrast to some of the other Happy Madison comedies, never really mean-spirited. In many ways, it’s a perfect Netflix film. It’s good enough to keep you entertained while, at the same time, you don’t necessarily have to really pay attention to every minute of the film to get it. It’s the epitome of the type of film that you can watch while doing something else.
One of the main complaints that’s always lodged against Sandler is that he primarily just makes movies so that he can hang out with his friends and get paid for it. There’s a certain amount of truth to that statement and that, more than anything, explains why Sandler’s filmography tends to be so frustratingly uneven. The cast of Hubie Halloween looks like they had a lot of fun making it. Fortunately, in this case, that sense of fun actually translates onto the screen. Steve Buscemi, June Squibb, and particularly Ray Liotta all seem to be having a ball getting to parody their own dramatic images.
Admittedly, Hubie Halloween is not a film that sticks with you. It won’t make you laugh as much as Happy Gilmore and it won’t leave you stunned like Uncut Gems. But, for what it is, it’s just likable enough to be entertaining.