Adam Sandler Celebrates the Season With Silly Netflix Comedy ‘Hubie Halloween’
While the global pandemic has put a damper on many fall celebrations, the spirit of All Hallows’ Eve is alive and well in “Hubie Halloween,” Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix feature. Less than a year after “Uncut Gems,” the role that earned him an Independent Spirit Award and serious Oscar buzz, Sandler proves that he didn’t let all the adulation from critics change him with this silly comedy made for the whole family. Sandler plays the title character, Hubert “Hubie” Dubois, a lovable dork whose mission in life is to make Halloween safe and fun for all. Not unlike Bobby Boucher, Sandler’s beloved character from “The Waterboy,” Hubie is mostly misunderstood, and while Bobby was sheltered by his mother, Hubie choses to scorn the internet and other corrupting influences, preferring the simpler things in life, like good soup and calling into the local radio station to request songs.
The film is set in Salem, MA, the site of the infamous witch trials and a popular tourist destination when Oct. 31 rolls around. According to Hubie, his family has been there since the 1600s, and one ancestor of his was executed for witchcraft after she bravely spoke up in an attempt to stop the madness. Her spirit lives on in Hubie, a deli worker, and he makes it his personal duty to report even the smallest wrongdoings, much to the frustration of the local police officers, including former high school cool guy Steve (Kevin James). Despite being in his fifties, Hubie is still an object of ridicule to both children and adults. While he isn’t too disturbed by the name-calling, the endless pranks get to him, as he is easily scared by Halloween props and things that jump out at him, quite unusual for a native of the Halloween capital of America.
Not everyone thinks Hubie’s a total loser. His doting mother (a delightful June Squibb) encourages him to stand up for himself. And while Hubie brings out the worst impulses in those prone to bullying, he brings out the best in others who are pure of heart, including Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen), a diner waitress and former classmate whom he’s had a crush on his whole life. Hubie also has a positive impact on her three foster children, including high school freshman Tommy (Noah Schnapp), who, along with another kind-hearted person, his crush, cafe worker and upperclassman Megan (Paris Berelc), comes to Hubie’s rescue after another teen, Mike (Karan Brar), Hubie’s co-worker at the deli, attempts to pull a prank on him. However, things become complicated after Mike goes missing. Soon, others disappear, and once Steve realizes that all the missing people are bullies of Hubie’s, he reluctantly joins forces to help him save the day.
As it is mostly harmless fun, “Hubie Halloween” is sure to be a hit with kids, as well as adults who are true Sandler fans. Those who never appreciated any of the previous Happy Madison offerings, this isn’t for you. Sandler, who co-wrote the screenplay with long-time collaborator Tim Herlihy, pays homage to his own past works, most notably in the opening scene, in which Ben Stiller reprises his abusive nursing home employee character from “Happy Gilmore.” This time, Orderly Hal is working the midnight shift at a mental hospital when he discovers patient Richie Hartman (Rob Schneider) has escaped. As Richie is a native of Salem, he becomes a suspect, as does Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi), Hubie’s eccentric new neighbor who he becomes convinced is a werewolf.
Like many recent Happy Madison films, “Hubie Halloween” is packed with celebrity co-stars and cameos, and those featured include Ray Liotta, current “Saturday Night Live” cast members Kenan Thompson, Melissa Villaseñor and Mikey Day, alumni Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows and Colin Quinn, plus Shaquille O’Neal and Michael Chiklis. Yes, the film is overstuffed, but it never loses sight of its ultimate message, and that is to respect and protect our neighbors.
“Hubie Halloween” begins streaming Oct. 7 on Netflix.