Contrary to popular belief, and despite almost no one raving about its spookiness, Hubie Halloween will scare the crap out of you. Am I a scaredy-cat like the way they describe Hubie Dubois in the film? Well, yes and no. When speaking about hardcore horror movies, I am inclined to be an Invisible Man than a scaredy-cat. You won’t see me hanging around those films. But rest assured, I am there. But in regards to horror comedies like Vampires vs. The Bronx and Hubie Halloween, I am usually a Hulk.
Seeing that it is now October and hoping to get more people into the Halloween mood, Netflix unleashed Hubie Halloween, a horror comedy with Adam Sandler as the leading face, Steven Brill calling the shots as the director, and Sandler’s Happy Madison Productions as the production company. Sandler himself plays Hubie Dubois, a resident-not-evil of Salem, Massachusetts, whose naive thinking, mumbling speech and timid persona perpetually/ constantly land him into trouble with his not-so-friendly neighbors.
Among many residents of Salem who are dedicated enough to wait with rotten eggs in their hands, sniffing them for hours just to throw them at Hubie who cycles by, a couple of them stands out — Hubie’s fellow colleague, Mike Mundi (Karan Brar), silver fox snob Mr Landolfa (Ray Liotta), and Hubie’s ex-classmate, Lester Hennessey (Tim Meadows). Steve Buscemi plays Walter Lambert, Hubie’s just-in-time-for-Halloween neighbor, and everything else in Salem is kept under the watchful eyes of sergeant Steve Downey (Kevin James). Including Hubie’s love interest, Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen).
Hubie Halloween kickstarts itself by introducing to you a scene of Hubie Dubois cycling through Salem and evading all the nonsense thrown at him like a pro. After a very predictable crash with a parked car, Hubie lands himself into a pile of malfunctioning life-size Halloween figures, which move like robots, and Hubie himself dances away in a similar fashion to disguise himself. Right away, the robotic dance is quintessentially Sandler, the crash shows a predictable comedic routine, and Hubie’s cool evasion tricks mark the start of a monstrous endurance training that your brain is about to go through — millions of that will be coming your way.
I did hope to be a little more tactful with Hubie Halloween to preserve whatever dignity that the film still has. But not many films in my ‘watched’ list are as capable as Hubie Halloween to be labelled ‘bad right off the bat’, and I thought that it wouldn’t hurt to be blunt since the film had hurt itself so much. It is kind of meta, because the more pranks that they try to pull-off on Hubie, the more garbage/bandwidth-waste the film becomes.
I am quite surprised that the writing comes from Sandler himself and his frequent collaborator, Tim Herlihy. They are the last individuals to come across my mind, moreover when the highly imaginative storyline of Hubie Halloween basically reads “throw an easily-frightened retard into a Halloween-crazed town and let the audience laugh to their hearts’ content (at their puny screens), while we laugh to our banks”. “Oh, and let’s put in some raunchy moments to poke at the adults, and lame jokes to hook the kids.” Truth is, Hubie Halloween becomes too tasteless and bland for adults, and too raunchy for kids instead.
I sincerely welcome viewers who have watched Hubie Halloween to perform a ‘vampire test’ on the film. Imagine yourself as a mirror, now try to reflect the real plot of Hubie Halloween in your mind. Anything? Just like how vampires don’t reflect on mirrors because they have no souls, Hubie Halloween won’t reflect in your mind because it doesn’t have a real story to begin with.
The 102 minutes that you will spend on Hubie Halloween (that’s if, you don’t exit halfway) are comprised of the following:
- 30% of Hubie screaming needlessly at everything around him that moves approximately an inch
- 20% of a cycling Hubie avoiding absurd objects that people throw at him
- 20% of Hubie chasing its own tails (which is the most excruciating, because you can’t really shove your head into the TV and tell him to stop)
- 5% of Hubie’s mumbles
- 5% of Hubie’s mysterious gadget-flask, the primary role of which is to set up the scenes
- Another 20% of screaming Hubie, this time, Hubie portrays an Adam Sandler who needs to hurriedly leave the set
- Okay, as a bonus, the film does pay tribute to the late Cameron Boyce (during the credits). But a beautiful tribute doesn’t equate to a beautiful film.
The only thing that had prevented me from jumping off this horrifyingly bland train ride, is the slight hint of mystery that was buried deep below this prank documentary. Also, if I quit halfway, it would not be possible to complete this write-up, so I knew that I had to embrace my inner kamikaze and cling to Hubie Halloween to whatever end that it will bring me to. After all, the mystery might pave the way for an acceptable ending to at least, compensate some of the endured bad dreams, right? Right.
If two wrongs can form into a right, then the final act would have succeeded tremendously. Because Hubie Halloween finished the entire wrong with an even bigger wrong, an additional coat of muddiness was slathered onto the overall picture of the movie, which honestly, completed its transformation into an irredeemable mess. I couldn’t believe it when the film suggests that instead of being a subject of disgust, Hubie Dubois was in fact a figure of envy among Salem folks, and the film did that without batting an eye.
It is totally okay for films like Hubie Halloween to make less sense than other genres, provided that it yields sufficient amounts of fun to be entertaining. Even if that’s not possible, at the very least, the sight of Adam Sandler having a blast playing Hubie could mean a lot to the audience. Sorry, Sandler was clearly not killing it when playing Hubie for most part, and it looks like he’s far from having a blast on set. In fact, with the ludicrous plot tied to the film, none of the cast truly stands out. Ray Liotta’s play as the super-obnoxious and probably-rich Mr Landolfa and Steve Buscemi’s supernatural Walter Lambert are honourable mentions worth commending, but that’s about it.
And if you are still not convinced that Hubie Halloween has been wasteful with its stars, you should have an exhaustive look into the cast list. Shaquille O’Neal? The NBA legend doesn’t even show up until the beginning of the final act. Kevin James? He wears a permanent Hagrid costume in Hubie Halloween, and rocks an aviator even during the night. Good luck seeing his facial expressions. Sandler’s kids? They play Violet’s foster daughters. Sandler’s wife? She plays a local newscaster. Wait, you didn’t know that the whole Sandler family is in the film? Together with the children of Steven Brill, Tim Herlihy, Kevin James, Ben Stiller and Ray Liotta, they formed an elite group of Halloween revelers in-film, and the next thing we know, Hubie Halloween is starting to sound more like a party than a film project. But whether they add significant entertainment value towards the film or otherwise, I will leave that to you.
Hubie Halloween might as well be renamed as Salem’s (terrifyingly-mundane) Compilation Video of Pranks, Halloween Edition, but since the film strikes so much meta with its leading character, perhaps I can give the film’s synopsis a slight tweak and conclude the verdict — “Despite its devotion to its hometown of Netflix (and its Halloween celebration), Hubie Halloween is a figure of mockery for kids and adults alike. But this year, something is going bump in the film industry, and it is up to Hubie Halloween to save the starving moviegoers and the dying industry” — The Film Addict
Originally published at https://www.thefilmaddict.com on October 13, 2020.