Hubie Halloween looks like another one of Adam Sandler’s disposable, lowest common denominator comedies and in a lot of ways, it is. There are plenty of slapstick moments that don’t land, recurring jokes that never feel earned, and guest spots aplenty from Sandler regulars. All the elements from the modern crop of unloved Sandler comedies are going to show up in Hubie Halloween, so if those are instant turn-offs for you, you are probably better off just steering clear.
However, if you have really been following Adam Sandler’s filmography, Hubie Halloween represents something of a minor miracle. At some point, Sandler stopped playing the kind of characters that made him a cult comedy icon; goofball weirdos whose behavior made them pariahs in some form or another. You look at the kind of bombastic cartoon characters he played on Saturday Night Live and his early star vehicles like Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore, and you see someone who identified with outcasts and clowns. But after a time, Sandler became lazy and seemingly jaded to his own popularity and his movie characters began to reflect that sense of disdain. It got to a point where some movies would feature Sandler being cruel to the kinds of characters he himself used to embody.
So, it is genuinely refreshing to see Adam Sandler return to playing a lovable doofus in Hubie Halloween. Hubie Dubois is a selfless civil servant in the town of Salem, Massachusetts, and he wants to make sure everyone has a safe Halloween. Unfortunately, this Halloween has to deal with a jailbreak from the local mental institution and the mysterious disappearances of a few neighborhood figures. Eventually, it will be up to Hubie to save the day.
As far as plotting goes, Hubie Halloween won’t knock your socks off but it does have some cute surprises along the way. The jokes and absurd performance choices are more miss than hit, but the hits are actually pretty funny. And though director Steve Brill is not doing anything super stylish or inventive with the filmmaking, the production design and set decoration are thoroughly impressive. As far as nailing a delightfully Halloween vibe, Hubie Halloween is an undeniable success. There is an abundance of love for the spooky season and the many things we all love about it, and there is no doubt that this was Sandler’s opportunity to make an ode to October. In that regard, he did great.
And frankly, his performance as Hubie is a much more welcome bit of stupidity than the stuff we have seen from him in other comparable comedies. Yes, Sandler is doing a doofy voice but that kind of choice was what made him stand out amongst his comedy peers. And his decision to try and make something that echoed his former glory days – there are pretty direct references to both Billy Madison and Happy Gilmore in Hubie Halloween – is sweethearted in a way that seemed incapable from contemporary Sandler. If nothing else, Hubie Halloween is a reminder that Sandler is an intelligent and self-aware artist and he knows exactly what he is doing.
Thankfully, the supporting cast in this are all enjoyable in their own ways and prop up the warmth that Sandler is going for. Julie Bowen reunites with Sandler after their romantic pairing in Happy Gilmore and she is a ray of silly sunshine. You’ll get expectedly ridiculous turns from Sandler regulars like Steve Buscemi and Rob Schneider, but none of them are so heinous as to sink the film. If anything, the abundance of recognizable actors actually hurts the movie as certain talents never get a chance to ever shine. And then, there is Kevin James who might possibly be the only comedic actor in history to never have a single funny moment in his career.
Still, Hubie Halloween ends up being one of the more pleasant Adam Sander comedies in recent memory. It wears its big, dumb heart on its sleeve and that alone is worth commending. On its own, Hubie Halloween is a mediocre but mostly harmless little comedy. When grading on the Adam Sandler curve, it passes with flying colors. There are many worse ways you could be celebrating Halloween.