I took it on good word from a critic I respect that Adam Sandler’s newest film for Netflix was actually a pretty solid film that I ought to check out. In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have bothered.
Truthfully, the film wasn’t the utter disgusting abomination of a comedy I feared it could be. Sandler’s name has been so utterly besmirched at this point by his crappy comedy output that his films are seen as infamous. I don’t think I’ve seen a new film of his since my childhood other than Click (2007) and The Cobbler (2014). I saw Pixels (2015) too but that was mostly for the bizarreness factor involved with that film’s premise.
This excludes his dramatic roles like Punch Drunk Love and Uncut Gems which he really shines in.
It’s not surprising then that he got picked up for Netflix when his films started bombing in the box office. In a lot of ways though, that makes his work really ideal to sell to Netflix in place of working with a traditional Hollywood studio.
Netflix films aren’t movies that are worth getting mad at most of the time because you’re already paying for the service and enjoying it from the comfort of your own home. It’s kind of hard to get mad at a movie you stumbled upon on TV sucking when you’re just laying down looking for something to pass the time.
As such, I’m inclined not to be AS brutal on this as I would be for a film like Jack and Jill or Pixels which I would’ve had to paid for.
Hubie Halloween is a pretty lo-fi premise in-spite of its pretentiousness. The film follows the life of Hubie Dubois. Hubie is an emotionally stunted main child living in Salem, Massachusetts who is obsessed with Halloween. He goes around every year trying to play the role of the town’s safety monitor as the rest of Salem goes on with its yearly ironic witch-burning festival celebrations and festivities.
Nominally, the story of the film is about bullying. Because Hubie is such an emotionally stunted dork, he gets bullied constantly by teenagers and adults who think he’s a pathetic loser. When Hubie’s bullies start disappearing on Halloween night, he’s forced to investigate where people are going and how to save them.
In the grand scheme of things, Hubie Halloween doesn’t actually offer up much actual intrigue. There are a handful of amusing jokes and the movie is mercifully fast paced enough to never be boring. The movie doesn’t quite have enough going for it to make it work. The nominal “plot” just ends up being a series of red herrings and gross joke setups.
There aren’t a lot of major set piece moments outside of a few gimmicky chase scenes and it’s clear most of the cinematography is minimal and flatly lit for ease of production. Happy-Madison films are usually broad comedies with crude humor and crass jokes so the cheapness has never been surprising. While stories from the sets seem to suggest that Sandler just likes to make these films with his friends, the laid back atmosphere of the production never translates to the antics.
Sandler films are almost always dumb and gross. Hubie Halloween is no exception. Maybe some of this could’ve been eliminated with a better lead performance from Sandler but his main contribution to the role is to play it off as a goofball with a silly speech impediment.
The story that does exist is merely wheel spinning false starts to a premise that never fully realizes what it wants to say or accomplish. I’m all for a low humor comedy film like Billy Madison from time to time but films like this have to be based in some reality and structure. If Sandler’s big idea was to do some kind of Monster Squad or horror movie pastiche, that could have been an interesting premise.
Sadly, Hubie Halloween’s only merit is that I don’t have the energy or desire to hate it.