The best way to start this review is to expose my bias: I will favor any film set on Halloween. What can I say? I’m a sucker for the spooky season. Unfortunately, theatrical horror releases are practically nonexistent this year. Fortunately, Netflix and Adam Sandler have come together to help fill that gaping void with Hubie Halloween.
I haven’t been excited for a Sandler comedy for a while, but I’ll confess to being hyped for Hubie Halloween. I love how Sandler and his posse play around with Universal Monster tropes in the Hotel Transylvania films, and the trailer for Hubie impressed me. Even after being burned by recent films such as The Ridiculous 6 and The Do-Over, I was ready to give Sandler and company a chance again. After all, I’m not one to turn my nose up at a Halloween movie.
“Halloween’s upon us.”
Hubie Halloween follows scaredy-cat Hubie DuBois as he once again prepares to keep everyone in Salem safe during his favorite holiday: Halloween. Even though the townspeople belittle and harass him, Hubie continues to look out for everyone. When people begin to disappear on Halloween night, he must find out who—or what—is behind the abductions.
First of all, Hubie Halloween is Sandler’s best comedy since 50 First Dates. It’s full of gags that range from chuckle-worthy to gut busters. An early gag involving a very popular Halloween costume stands out, as well as multiple slapstick moments that harken back to Sandler’s output from the ‘90s. In fact, fans of Sandler’s early films will find a lot to love here, from surprise cameos to throwback gags. This movie feels like a love letter to classic Sandler.
Not only does the film bring the laughs, but it has an undeniable warmth to it. Hubie is Sandler’s most lovable character yet, more akin to Longfellow Deeds than Happy Gilmore. He also reunites with Happy Gilmore co-star Julie Bowen, and they haven’t lost an ounce of chemistry in the twenty-four years since that film. Their romantic subplot is one of the highlights in a movie full of them.
“It’s pretty impressive how long he’s been a loser.”
The most exciting thing about Hubie Halloween? The writing and direction make it feel like an actual movie. The cinematography and set design bring the town of Salem, Massachusetts to spooky life, and there is actually a story to follow with some genuinely clever twists and turns. Sandler has always confessed to using filmmaking as an excuse to hang out with his friends, and that’s still evident here; everyone looks like they’re having a blast. However, this time it’s balanced with a story that remains investing throughout.
That’s not to say that Hubie Halloween is a great work of art. There’s still the typical pitfalls of a Sandler movie. Uninspired pee and fart jokes are scattered throughout, and one could argue that Sandler’s odd voice is a bit grating. However, the mediocre aspects are forgivable when surrounded by all the good this film has to offer.
While Hubie Halloween is more comedy than horror, it would be a great gateway movie for young kids interested in spooky films and television. It doesn’t ever go balls to the wall, but plays on horror tropes nicely. One particular scene involving a scarecrow is spooky without being terrifying. The tone is so lighthearted, making the movie as a whole one of Sandler’s sweeter offerings. And while the message is simple—be nice to each other—it’s one that bears repeating in the year 2020.
Sandler threatened making the “worst movie ever” after being snubbed by The Academy for his role in Uncut Gems, but this isn’t that movie. Quite the opposite, in fact. As a Halloween lover and a ‘90s Sandler fanatic, I found a lot to love in Hubie Halloween. I’d even dare to say it’s an instant classic, bound to be rewatched every Halloween season for years to come.
Overall Score 4/5
The Shameless Plugs
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