Review: Hubie Halloween Entertaining But Falls Flat

Adam Sandler’s Netflix movie as hollow as inside of Jack O’ Lantern

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Photo by Zach King

Netflix’s “Hubie Halloween” stars Adam Sandler, along with other big names.

“Hubie Halloween” is a 2020 comedy written by and starring Adam Sandler and directed by Steven Brill. The story follows Hubie Dubois, played by Sandler, a Halloween fanatic who is constantly bullied by the residents of his hometown, Salem, Massachusetts. However, when people start to go missing, it’s up to Hubie to save the day.

I like to consider this movie to be the “Infinity War” of the Adam Sandler Cinematic Universe, both because of the casting choices as well as the multiple references to Sandler’s previous movies. Ben Stiller makes a short cameo at the beginning of the movie, playing Hal L., the same character he played in “Happy Gilmore.” Julie Bowen plays Violet Valentine, Sandler’s doubled V-initialed love interest that references Bowen’s Virginia Venit from “Happy Gilmore.”

Hubie’s accent is extremely similar to Sandler’s Bobby Boucher from “The Waterboy.” Hubie’s line “Now you’re all in big, big trouble,” and “O’doyle Rules,” said by a kid riding a bike, are also both callbacks to “Billy Madison.”

However, “Hubie Halloween” feels less like a blockbuster or your average Halloween family comedy and more like an ABC Halloween Special. Actors Sandler has worked with in the past like Ray Liotta, Rob Schneider, Kevin James and Steve Buscemi are all in this movie, as well as current and former fellow “Saturday Night Live” cast members Keenan Thompson, Melissa Villaseñor, Mikey Day, Maya Rudolph and Tim Meadows.

The problem is that most of these actors don’t play any sort of prominent role, and while that may not be noticeable or important in other films Sandler has done, “Hubie Halloween” sometimes goes out of its way to include the characters played by these actors in scenes that provide nothing more than an overused or one-time edgy joke.

Buscemi and Rudolph are known for bringing a unique personality or style to every movie, but they are underutilized here. Similar to an ABC Halloween Special, these actors appear to have been thrown onto a set with a script that feels like if a Hallmark movie writer tried to write a Scooby Doo episode, and told to just act with no other instructions by the director.

This is extremely apparent regarding the multiple teen actors who all previously have acted on Disney Channel. Karan Brar and Paris Berelc are the only ones who play a role that actually affects the story, while actors like Peyton List, Brad Steven Perry, Kelli Berglund, China Anne McClain, and Kevin Quinn serve absolutely no purpose.

Noah Schnapp also stars in the movie as the son of Violet Valentine, however he doesn’t really do that much as well. The writers attempt to set up a high school romance subplot with him and a Disney actor, before forgetting about it entirely and not addressing it for the last 45 minutes of the movie.

In terms of the pure plot of the movie, however, the film was very entertaining. The timeline of this movie is all over the place, even though it technically takes place all in one day, but I appreciate the attempt to place running gags throughout the film. Sometimes it works, such as objects being thrown at Hubie as well as the Salem Radio Station, but sometimes it doesn’t. One such case is Maya Rudolph’s character talking about her relationship with her husband.

The ending comes out of nowhere for two main reasons. One is that because the majority of the movie is running gags, it allows the writers to hide the villain behind one of these gags and subvert our expectations in order to create a pretty good plot twist. The other reason is because this movie is just so all over the place that with 20 minutes left in the movie, anyone could be the villain due to the writers giving you barely any clues to solve the main mystery.

The cinematography of this movie is probably its best feature. It captures the overall vibe of the movie very well, and the use of light makes everything look great. Shaquille O’Neal delivers the movie’s best joke, and the soundtrack fits the movie nicely, adding a Halloween themed pop-rock flair.

If “The Waterboy” was a horror movie that aired on The CW, “Hubie Halloween” would probably be as good as it gets. While the movie at its core makes no sense whatsoever, it’s entertaining and probably one of the best films Sandler has done with Netflix.