There are few things scarier than watching a modern Adam Sandler comedy. Following his cult-classic comedies in the ‘90s, the quality of his films has greatly decreased. Most seem to rely on fart jokes, endless screaming and his unfunny comedian buddies. Hubie Halloween is his most recent comedy after his critically acclaimed performance in Uncut Gems last year. It’s far from the worst thing he’s created, but it’s also no return to form.
Hubie Halloween is about a middle-aged man living in Salem, Massachusetts, named, well, Hubie. He’s obsessed with Halloween and takes it upon himself to make sure that everyone has a safe and fun celebration. When a dangerous patient at a nearby psychiatric hospital escapes, weird things start happening in Salem, and Hubie is the only one who can get to the bottom of it.
Remember Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy or any of Sandler’s other characters with obnoxious voices? Hubie is like that but turned up to 11. Hubie is a pretty standard Sandler character — socially inept and annoying. But it is hard to understand anything he says. He mumbles through his lines with a strange Bostonian accent that no one else has, despite living in the area.
Sandler brought a whole crew of famous actors along with him. Kevin James and Rob Schneider make their usual humorless appearances, alongside Steve Buscemi, June Squibb, Ray Liotta and others. There’s the cop that doesn’t believe the protagonist, an overprotective mother, a bully: pretty standard characters. The love interest, played by Julie Bowen, is inexplicably infatuated with Hubie from the very start, which renders that entire subplot unnecessary.
The story isn’t that great anyway. It’s mostly a loose guideline to take Hubie from one location to another for shenanigans to ensue. Plot threads and new characters are constantly introduced only to be dropped until much later in the film. The movie is not particularly complicated, and many scenes just feel like a waste of time.
One of the stronger aspects of this movie is the unique setting. Instead of taking place in a generic sprawling metropolis or a small town in the Midwest, Salem provides a nice slice of the Northeastern coast of the U.S. It was filmed on location in Salem, adding to its authenticity. There are plenty of background references to witches and other spooky things due to the area’s history. The neighborhoods show the tightly packed and skinny housing that the Boston area is known for.
Surprisingly, the jokes weren’t entirely sigh-inducing. A few of the running gags throughout the film are so absurd and creative that they elicited a few chuckles. One of the highlights is an incredibly useful thermos. However, for every one joke that worked, there were probably four or five that didn’t. There were still the fart jokes and jokes where the punchline is just someone screaming.
Hubie Halloween is a bad movie, but it’s not a bad Adam Sandler movie. It doesn’t reach the heights that one might find in Happy Gilmore or The Wedding Singer, but it also doesn’t sink to the depths of Jack and Jill. It’s available on Netflix, although it’d probably be wise to just watch Uncut Gems instead.