Directed by: Steven Brill
Written by: Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler
Starring: Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, June Squibb, Kevin James, and Ray Liotta
Reviewed by: Rob Leicht
Going into Hubie Halloween I was undeniably skeptical. We are 20 years departed from Adam Sandler’s 1990s heyday, and Happy Madison hasn’t produced a bearable movie in a decade. But as he is the creative mind behind several of my favorite comedies, I had to know – could Sandler conjure up enough of his past magic to make something that isn’t entirely cringeworthy?
Like the best (and the worst) of Adam Sandler’s characters, Hubie Dubois is a man-child who talks oddly. Ostracized within his hometown of Salem and easily scared, he is a self-appointed Halloween Monitor. When weird shit starts happening, including mysterious disappearances and a werewolf, Hubie has to overcome his fears to save the town. To his credit, Sandler tries hard to bring some of his classic comedic touch from days gone by to the film, perhaps too hard. Hubie is reminiscent of Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy, down to his relationship with an overly protective mother and an alliteratively-named love interest. References and characters from past movies are crammed in and the usual assortment of Sandler’s buddies and fellow SNL alumni make appearances to varying degrees of success; Kevin James’s character provides little more than a vehicle for a beard and mullet, Tim Meadows is a delight, and Steve Buscemi is crazier than usual.
The nostalgia level is high, but the jokes carry the film. As expected, everything here is pretty stupid, but it’s pretty funny too. Not all the gags work, but just enough do. And there is a surprising amount of heart and charm underneath the laughs. Hubie Dubois is not the Halloween hero we deserve, nor is he the one we need. But he is the one we have, and he does a halfway decent job.
Hubie Halloween is a poignant look at loneliness and the human condition. Wait, what? Damn, I must be higher than I thought. This movie is watchable. Which, in terms of recent Happy Madison releases and Adam Sandler’s Netflix portfolio, makes this a win. Hubie Halloween is more treat than trick.