critic’s rating: 2.5/5
Adam Sandler has made a career out of playing weirdo characters with goofball accents. His characters are shown to be dumb but they do provide you with a life-lesson in the end. That’s a hallmark of all his films and Hubie Halloween is no exception. We were expecting him to do something different after the insanely clever and funny Uncut Gems (2019) but after segueing into thriller territory, Sandler is back in his familiar turf. He played it safe and the gamble worked in his favour as early trade reports are calling it one of the most successful Adam Sandler films ever.
The film is set in Salem, infamous for its witch trials held in 1692. Given its history, the place has become the Halloween capital of sorts for America, a point that the film emphasises on time and again. Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler) believes that one of his ancestors stood up for the women accused as witches. That bit of family history has gone to his head and he considers himself the town’s safety monitor during Halloween. He’s the butt of jokes around the neighbourhood and people often take out their frustration on him by throwing different objects — from eggs to kitchen sinks — when he makes his rounds on his trusted bicycle. Over the years, he has learnt to dodge most of the missiles and developed a thick skin for most of the jokes. Two people in town have come to recognise his inner goodness. One is his own mother (June Squibb), who has a habit of wearing T-shirts with inappropriate messages on them, and the other is Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen), who has been his crush since childhood. Violet really likes him and would like to go out with him but Hubie never takes the hint. An escaped inmate from a mental asylum is said to have arrived in Salem and is reportedly targeting people over Halloween. Hubie takes upon himself to save his town and its denizens and thereby wins everyone’s respect, and Violet’s love, in the process.
The film is teeming with oddball characters. Ray Liotta’s character, who has recently lost his father, isn’t averse to playing pranks or to wearing a giant rainbow-coloured clown wig, Rob Schneider plays an escaped inmate who is a serial urinator, Steve Buscemi’s character suffers from fake werewolf disease and Shaquille O’Neal acts as a radio host having a sexy effeminate voice. Beneath all this goofiness, the director does get one of two anti-establishment shots — like the town Mayor refuses to pull a plug on the proceedings because that’ll mean a loss of revenue even when people are reported missing. And the TV companies gleefully scrambling to cover people being burnt at stake for the sake of TRPs. But on the whole, the film is as lowbrow as they come.
While Hubie Halloween is the classic underdog story, Hubie isn’t someone who miraculously gets transformed into a hero. Rather, the townspeople accept his eccentricities when they come face to face with their own quirks and finally begin to see the real person beneath the flaws. The film’s underlying message is that nobody’s perfect and the more we recognise it, the better it’ll be for all of us. Also, we should be more forgiving and more caring towards one another. Halloween isn’t Christmas but Sandler and his director Steven Brill have made it all Christmassy. They could have made a decent slasher comedy but feels like they decided against the gore at the last minute, toning down all the horror elements.
In a nutshell, Hubie Halloween is a regular Adam Sandler movie — good for a few laughs but something that won’t make for a great cinematic memory in the long run.
Trailer : Hubie Halloween
Ronak Kotecha, October 8, 2020, 3:40 AM IST
critic’s rating: 3.0/5
STORY: Hubie Dubois is the most bullied goofball in town.But despite this, he will do whatever it takes to keep the residents safe, especially during his favourite festival Halloween. But this year, there’s a psycho killer on the loose.
REVIEW: Welcome to Salem – the city with a witch history and clearly, the unofficial Halloween capital of America. It’s the eve of the spooky festival and the preparations are on in full swing. It’s also the busiest time for Hubie (Adam Sandler), the town’s official volunteer Halloween helper, who has taken it upon himself to spread the message of safety even when all that the town residents can do, is mock him mercilessly. Kids and adults alike are so insensitive that they throw all sorts of things at him, as he cycles his way around the town. They say the meanest of things on his face. Hubie also scares easy and this isn’t lost on his bullies, who do not spare any opportunity to scare the living daylights out of the poor fella. The city police treats him nothing more than a nuisance maker, who cries wolf at every little thing and comes running to the police station with complaints. The only two people, who believe in Hubbie and find him special are his mother (June Squibb) and his former schoolmate Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen). He even has a secret crush on her but has never mustered up the courage to ask her out. However, this Halloween Hubie has his task cut out, as Salem is about to witness its scariest Halloween ever. A mental health patient named Mr. Loon E Tunes (like Looney Tunes, get it?) is on the run from the state mental hospital and Hubie is witness to some of the residents disappearing into thin air.Right from its first scene, ‘Hubie Halloween’ establishes itself as yet another Adam Sandler flick – a juvenile and disposable comic caper that bets big on silly gags and practical jokes. Of course, the idea of adding the mystery element works because most of the punches don’t necessarily land. And in that spirit, the Halloween backdrop is always fascinating because it also makes for a visually appealing show. The spookiness is only conveyed through eerie atmospherics and creepy Halloween costumes. Director Steven Brill keeps the proceedings non-serious and sans any bloodshed so it’s quite kid-friendly.
Adam Sandler (also the co-writer) has clearly devoted the most time and thought etching out his own goofy character than the overall plot, which is as puerile as it gets. He is known for roles like these but here Hubie’s mumbling ways are so prominent here that you will need subtitles to comprehend what he says. Also, while his character is the driving force behind everything that happens on the screen, it is also quite unrealistic for a grown-up man to be so ruthlessly bullied with zero consequences in today’s day and age. But logic is clearly not the highpoints of the narrative anyway. Heck he carries a multi-purpose thermos at all times, which turns into a vacuum-cleaner, spade, umbrella and what have you.
Among the other characters (and there are so many of them) Kevin James, Julie Bowen, June Squibb and Steve Buscemi seem like they had some fun playing their quirky bits. From the teen brigade, Noah Schnapp (of ‘Stranger Things’ fame) looks every bit the meek and vulnerable Tommy. Maya Rudolph, Ray Liotta and Tim Meadows are annoyingly stereotypical and loud as Hubie’s chief tormentors. Cameos by Ben Stiller (as Orderly Hal) and former basketball player Shaquille O’Neal (as the radio jockey DJ Aurora) are a hoot.
As a mystery comedy, ‘Hubie Halloween’ gives you a bit of both in its own trademark childish way with a lesson or two for the big bullies in the end. But it’s just as easily forgettable as it is watchable. So trick or treat, you decide.