Even the eight-year-old within me cringed. The same eight-year-old who’s loved so many movies aimed at kids and preteens even today, and loved so many Adam Sandler movies that have been critically panned. Hubie Halloween is a mixture of these, and here they go together like whatever those three soups Sandler orders in this film were, which he literally does pour in and blend.
I’ve heard Adam Sandler is a great guy in real life, in spite of the sort of stardom over decades and decades that I’ve heard can easily turn someone into an airhead, which adds to my sadness about having to give a harsh review. Sandler plays Hubie Dubois, a delicatessen who still lives with his mother, a senile one either not knowing the meanings of the words on her bargain-bin shirts or shameless about it. Hubie speaks like a mixture of Jill Sadelstein and Borat Sagdiyev, and that, plus, well, everything, from the thermos he carries everywhere to his desire to patrol the suburbs of Salem on Halloween makes him the target for as many pranks and ridicule as possible. But it seems this Halloween there might actually be someone out there hunting down civilians and Hubie might actually have to come to the rescue.
I wasn’t much of a fan of Uncut Gems but I won’t deny it was an effectively discomforting, profane, and suspenseful strange thing of a movie, and I was happy Adam Sandler was in a role that got him proper respect. So I was supremely surprised at how juvenile this was. Yes, most of Sandler’s movies are that way, but this one is even more insane and unrealistic than You Don’t Mess With The Zohan. And even if that’s what they were going for, the way to make us care about something is to make it at least a bit relatable, familiar to our eyes and ears.
I actually enjoyed Sandler’s two Grown Ups movies. They weren’t perfect but they had a charismatic honesty about nostalgia for young adolescence. I even liked Jack & Jill, the movie that set the record for most Razzies in a year, beating the one and only Battlefield Earth. How the heck could I ever enjoy the infamous Jack & Jill, you ask? Sandler’s enthusiasm rubbed off the right way in that film for some reason. He just never displayed embarrassment or anemia towards being in drag.
In Hubie Halloween, he commits to the doofy lisp voice, the constant screaming and the persevering attitude in the same fashion (well, kind of), but this time it doesn’t rub off the right way. Sandler played Jill in a way that made her eccentric but believable. But even the biggest scaredy cat would eventually get some muscle for jump scares and a desire to just step aside after all the times Hubie’s been pranked and bullied. It’s called Stockholm Syndrome (in a way), and Hubie ain’t absorbing it. Just like the constant trash (and six-foot arrows on fire) thrown and shot at him, this character, and so much of this movie, is just laughably unbelievable. He gives speeches at the local public school every year voluntarily to teach kids about the dangers of trick-or-treating, and he gives himself hall (or suburb) monitor duty for the neighbourhoods and secret parties. After everything he suffers for his actions, I don’t buy that he’d keep doing it. Not even the moments meant to be heartfelt I believed.
What I think the writers were going for in Sandler’s character was to depict someone with mental illnesses, like autism, which I have, and show how those different from most of society can be the ones with the most genuine and loyal hearts. If that’s what they were going for, noble for them. And one strength of the film is there are characters who don’t always fall under what you expect of them (yet sometimes they do, especially not one but two black couples who yell like Gordon Ramsey at each other) and I agree with the film’s overall message. But the sad fact is, Hubie annoyed me. He just seemed like a man in the rut with no way to get out of it, and it stayed that way for the whole feature.
Hubie Halloween is a movie that was clearly fun to make. Almost all of Sandler’s friends from the Grown Ups movies (even Rob Schneider who refused to be in the second one) are present and the credits consist of some outtakes. Not to mention the film is admittedly gorgeously plastered with spirited Halloween decorations. But here’s the bottom line. Anyone who likes seeing a mistakenly identified dog defecate and then eat what was just expelled, and awkward conversations about soup will get a kick out of Hubie Halloween. Anyone else, even little kids who don’t military-level-strictly fall under that, should stay far away and do something worthwhile, like planning what to force your parents to buy if you’re not allowed to trick or treat this year.
If you like this, I’d try: Goosebumps