In the picture

October 18, 2020

Despite the weak writing, the cameo-filled Hubie Halloween does deliver the occasional laugh.

Hubie Halloween ★★ 1/2

*ing: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Julie Bowen, Ray Liotta, and Steve Buscemi

Directed by: Steven Brill

Tagline: Fear. Less.

Adam Sandler returns to Netflix in the new horror comedy Hubie Halloween, and, as usual, his friends and family are firmly in tow. A host of familiar faces – ranging from SNL alumni to Sandler’s wife and kids – pop up in this silly caper, as do several Sandlerverse Easter eggs. And, while the entire endeavour isn’t exactly a masterclass in filmmaking, the absurd randomness of it all is still likely to generate a chuckle from the audience at one point or the other.

Sandler stars as Hubie Dubois, a good-hearted but easily-startled deli worker who is bullied by both the kids and grownups in his Halloween-obsessed hometown. The townsfolk are weary of his attempts to keep the neighbourhood safe, and local cop Steve (Kevin James) is tired of his incessant alarmist reporting. Hubie does, however, earn appreciation from his childhood crush, the beautiful Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen), who has a soft spot for him.

Strange things start transpiring with the arrival of a mysterious new neighbour (Steve Buscemi) and the escape of a convict from a local mental institution.

Hubie’s tormentors then start disappearing one by one, and it is up to the protagonist to solve the case and save the day.

The silly flick is built around a slim plot that often devolves into absurdity. A few of the running gags – Hubie’s super thermos, his mother’s shirts, his ability to dodge the things thrown at him – are entertaining. Other elements – like Sandler’s goofy accent (very likely to prompt you to cringe and then turn on the subtitles), and a radio host gag – are less effective. The result, therefore, is an uneven comedy. It’s easy to see that Hubie Halloween could have been significantly better. Given the onscreen talent involved in this project, a slicker script and a smarter mystery could have made the adventure more memorable.

Still, it’s obvious that the aim of this movie was to produce some silly entertainment that generates some laughs along the way, and in that mission, the film sporadically delivers. There is enough sweetness here to charm the audience into spending an hour and a half in the company of these oddball characters. The cameos and nostalgic callbacks also help. While many of the actors seem too good for the material they are working with, they are all, nonetheless, clearly having fun here.

This is pretty much what you’d expect from an Adam Sandler Halloween movie. It’s neither his best, nor his worst effort. And while it certainly won’t convert his detractors, if you do enjoy Sandler’s work and are in the mood for a goofy Halloween comedy, then Hubie Halloween just might be worth a viewing.

Rating system: *Not on your life * ½ If you really must waste your time ** Hardly worth the bother ** ½ Okay for a slow afternoon only
*** Good enough for a look see *** ½ Recommended viewing **** Don’t miss it **** ½ Almost perfect ***** Perfection

In the picture