The sixth movie in Adam Sandler’s 6-movie contract with Netflix (which has eventually extended to 10 movies ever since) arrives as a Halloween deadpan comedy. Sandler, a manchild named Hubie Dubois, is the city pariah living in Salem. Everyone in the town seems to love to ridicule and pick on him for nonsensical reasons. And yet, this Halloween, things might have changed for good… or for worse.
Related Post: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)
News has spreaded that a psychopath from a nearby mental hospital escaped on the night of October 30 and is currently romanticizing the past in town. At the same time, Hubie is set to spend the Halloween night as the city’s official Halloween Helper. Soon enough, Hubie will get entangled in a full-on, messy mystery involving missing persons, the psychopath on the loose, a new neighbor with penchant for full moon (Steve Buscemi), Hubie’s secret love (Julia Bowen), and his Swiss Army thermos.
It’s easy to slip and get lost amidst the movie’s unwittingly complicated narrative. Sandler’s mystery involves as many parties as the whole town of Salem; no wonder you’ll keep losing track of what’s happening so far. With truckload performances, each in overdo manner, focus might not be Hubie Halloween‘s most obvious trait. From a group of stars you haven’t constantly seen in a long time, like Buscemi (looking menacing even when he isn’t), Ben Stiller, Rob Schneider, and Ray Liotta; Saturday Night Live energies from Maya Rudolph and Tim Meadows; or the lots like Kevin James and Shaquille O’Neal, the ensemble almost looks like it’s studded with faulty stars for the wrong reason. The mystery gets out of hand in the end and you won’t be the one to blame.
Related Post: Review: Uncut Gems (2019)
Nonetheless, if there’s a consistent element in the movie, it’s the protagonist. Hubie Dubois is a certified Adam Sandler character: a dimwit with sweet heart and utterly weird voice. It’s that kind of traits that Sandler keeps playing over and over again even when he’s no longer had the virtue from his early career. Aside from his occasional shift to dramatic roles which he nailed perfectly (as in Punch-Drunk Love, The Meyerowitz Stories and Uncut Gems), Sandler consistently plays one shade of character only and we, as audiences, have to endure. The key take-out to Hubie Halloween is to think of Sandler in such a pattern and nothing else. Otherwise, you need to cope up with his (apparently serious) threat to make rubbish movies had his Uncut Gems performance lost in Oscars.
Hubie Halloween loves to overdo the overdone and that’s possibly the only thing that makes the duration. Director Steven Brill (directing, so far, three of Sandler-Netflix movies including Sandy Wexler and The Do-Over) is not there to make differences; he’s up to crash the party with Sandler as the centerpiece. It’s definitely not Sandler’s worst just because it’s, at least, not lazy.