Hubie Halloween movie review: Adam Sandler endorses kindness in unabashedly silly Netflix comedy
Hubie Halloween is exactly what you'd expect it to be — an extended gag reel that seems to have been taken out of an unaired episode of America's Funniest Home Videos.
Let's face it. If you have logged onto Netflix to watch Hubie Halloween this weekend, you pretty much know what you've signed up for. It has Adam Sandler as a serial do-gooder with a strange lisp, and is directed by Steven Brill, who has earlier attempted comedies like Little Nicky, The D0-Over, and Sandy Wexler.
Well, let me not beat around the bush. Hubie Halloween is exactly what you'd expect it to be — an extended gag reel that seems to have been taken out of an unaired episode of America's Funniest Home Videos. It's unapologetically silly, but what makes the film worth your while is perhaps its anti-bullying message, which is effortlessly melded into the abject goofiness of the script.
Hubie Halloween is the latest outing in Sandler’s 10-film deal with Netflix. Generally underwhelming, the film comes at a juncture in the actor’s life when his brand of bizarre does not necessarily need a backstory to reach out to audiences. So, Hubie Dubois stumbles upon the screen as a thermos-carrying man-child, determined to police children (and adults) for ill behaviour during Halloween.
Sandler’s world is joined in by his Hollywood staples Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, along with new additions like Julie Bowen, Maya Rudolph, and Tim Meadows among others. The characters occupy a considerable portion of the quirky spectrum — you’ve got a neighbour who’s convinced of his werewolf transformation every night, a wife who has lost hope for love (and sex) in the future, a store colleague who oozes confidence but is bogged down by the responsibilities of being the social butterfly.
The film rotates in a plane of run-off-the-mill humour that strives to achieve the “casually funny” tag all along. Sandler had famously stated in a Howard Stern interview that if he did not manage to bag the Best Actor Oscar for Uncut Gems, he’d f**king come back and do one again that is so bad on purpose just to make you all pay.” Hubie Halloween feels like such a by-product.
In a sea of meaningless slapstick comedy, then, Hubie’s mother (June Squibb) shines as the soul of the film. Often used as a conduit for Brill to mouth truisms (“True bravery is being kind, even to those who were cruel to you!”), Squibb’s character deserves the little praise that’ll come the film’s way. Sporting heavily punned t-shirts like “Boner Donor” “I Shaved My Balls For This?” Or “If You Can Read This, You’re In Fart Range”, Squibb’s mum avatar is the personification of badass. And if you’re still merrily chuckling at the idea of Squibb wearing the words “Kayaking Gets Me Wet”, you are probably on the right track.
Hubie Halloween feels like a déjà vu gone wrong; déjà vu of the multiple Sandler productions that seemed like permutations and combinations of the same formulaic comedy.
Bowen’s subplot as Violet Valentine had the potential of grounding the narrative chaos that the Sandler-verse naturally brings in. As Hubie’s high school crush, Violet’s present standing as a foster mother to her three children demanded more screen time and credit. By leaving her altruism unexplored, the writers (Tim Herlihy and Sandler) unfairly shift focus on Hubie’s do-gooder attitude alone.
Despite these shortcomings, the Netflix Original gains brownie points for its life-affirming messaging that underlines an anti-bullying stance. In a world getting gradually consumed by toxic negativity that rides comfortably on the shoulders of anonymity, such films (however mindless) need to be told.
Hubie’s overzealousness to set the world right and fair comes in as a welcome trait that many would prefer over a quick wit or worldly intelligence. So, Hubie becomes our very own human superhero with a multifunctional flask as weapon, and PSA: the world needs that thermos.
Hubie Halloween is currently streaming on Netflix.
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