By Laurie Coker
Keeping the kids entertained these can be nearly impossible and with all the CDC expectations for avoiding normal Halloween activities, parents are trying to get creative. Old favorites in spooky family fun are streaming and on-demand, but Adam Sandler and a host of other familiar faces, like Steve Buscemi, Rob Snyder, Kevin James, and Maya Rudolph, star in Hubie Halloween, a Happy Madison production airing on Netflix. Sandler, who promised the worst movie ever should he not get an Oscar nod for his showing in Uncut Gem last hear, and he’s almost done it.
Hubie Halloween, set in modern day Salem, Massachusetts, follows Hubie Dubois, a good-hearted simpleton of a man, who is the brunt of all jokes in all aspects of his life. He travels through town on a bike with a pumpkin helmet and a miraculous, super thermos that is a vacuum, an umbrella, blender, megaphone, and dozens of other impressive things – oh, yes, and it can store his soup. The police chief (Kevin James) makes fun of Hubie like everyone else, but to keep Hubie out of his mullet (and truly odd beard), he makes Hubie the Halloween monitor and sends him on a special, super-secret mission to find the person who is kidnapping citizens of the town.
Sandler gives Hubie an annoying speech-impediments not unlike other characters he has played and it is no more endearing here than in his other films. The choice makes Hubie rightfully annoying and film almost intolerable. Stars like Ray Liota, Rudolph, Michael Chiklis, and Tim Meadows play adults who grew up with Hubie and bullied him mercilessly and there is a long line of bratty kids in the film that follow suit. One person, besides his mother (June Squibb), Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen) treats Hubie with any kindness or respect.
The mystery here plays out a great deal like a Scooby Doo plot and is equally transparent. Red herrings abound, from mental patients to escaped convicts and the bullying and pranks lose their punch early on. In reality, Hubie’s magical thermos provides most of the twists and laughs, although there are a few zingers from Liota and Rudolph. The sets are clever and costumes quite fun, and it isn’t the worst of Sandler’s movies, but its humor is far too low brow for kids and the story too childish for the older set. It does offer up an occasional chuckle and the autumnal experience as Hubie cycles around town is a refreshing.
I imagine that the cast and crew had a blast making the movie, as evidence by the outtakes at the end, but Hubie Halloween won’t go into the annals of holiday classics. On a positive note, given the lock in feel of this year’s upcoming Halloween, Hubie Halloween is better than a stick in the eye or a razor blade in an apple. It earns a C- in the grade book, it might appeal to teens.