A scorned, self-appointed Halloween monitor discovers his time to shine when townspeople start disappearing.
Directed by Steven Brill
Starring Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, and Steve Buscemi
Review by Jon Kissel
Sandler’s character this time around, the titular Hubie, talks in mumbles because why the hell not and fashions himself as the town scold because he has to be something. Hubie solves a couple interlocking Halloween-themed mysteries, gets his dream girl, and becomes the hero of the town, all while being a charmless killjoy narc who the children of the town justifiably hate before the script requires them not to. This guy probably personally unwrapped all the candy on a previous Halloween looking for razor blades, or was super-into the Satanic Panic. He’s a busybody who needs to mind his goddamn business. It’s totally possible that my dislike of Sandler in lazy comedy mode infected how I felt about Hubie. I just know I was rooting for Ray Liotta’s character to bury him alive. Sandler and usual co-writer Tim Herlihy have to make sure that the audience knows Hubie’s a good guy. They even employ the Save the Cat trope, wherein Hubie saves an actual cat. They contrive scenarios where Hubie has to rescue two girls, played by Sandler’s own daughters, and then have two fakeouts when he returns them, though it’s absurd that they needed to be found in the first place. Their teenage brother snuck out of the house, who gives a shit? One doesn’t hit Play on a Sandler movie expecting it to be some David Lynch puzzle of dream logic, but this one’s stupider than most.
The crazy thing, though, is that I did laugh a few times during this. These Sandler movies, of which I again don’t have a strong sampling, manage to squeeze some jokes out of the supporting characters. I’ll admit to chuckling every time Oscar nominee June Squibb showed up in a novelty t-shirt. I’m not a monster. Maya Rudolph is the only actor who doesn’t seem like she’s reading lines from a bad script, though I’d tentatively lump Tim Meadows in with her. Her, and to a lesser extent his, efforts elevate what aren’t really jokes, but she can elevate anything. Betsy Sodaro and Shaq make a cute couple. I can’t fully hate Hubie Halloween if it provoked gentle chuckles.
Mostly, this only produced agita. Hubie Halloween is a useless half measure of a movie that makes most of its cast into pathetic shells of their selves. Julie Bowen is actively wooden and terrible as the love interest, Kevin James is present, and there’s a reason a lot of the cast and crew only work when Sandler calls them. Shockingly, this could’ve been worse and at least isn’t actively offensive, as long as the viewer isn’t offended by sheer mediocrity from a man who’s done much, much better within immediate memory. C-