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‘Hubie Halloween’: Trick instead of treat

| Thursday, October 22, 2020

Mary O'Reilly | The Observer

Slapstick comedy is hard to pull off. With too many characters or a joke that pushes it a bit too far, the entire movie can be thrown off balance if a writer relies too heavily on physical comedy. Unfortunately, Adam Sandler’s Netflix Halloween flick “Hubie Halloween” flops for this very reason. There is hardly any substance to back up the film’s jokes, with every character more of a caricature than a regular person. While the setting and general plot of the movie do fit the aesthetic of Halloween, the only thing scary about “Hubie Halloween” is the fact that so many actors signed on to film it.

“Hubie Halloween” takes place in Salem, Massachusetts, on Halloween. The film juxtaposes suspenseful, creepy instrumental music that we find in classic Halloween movies with party classics like “Monster Mash,” a mix that reflects the film’s tone. “Hubie Halloween” is both a comedy and a mystery at once, as the main character’s comedic life intertwines with the mystery he is trying to solve. Hubie Dubois (Sandler) is the town’s equivalent of a school hall monitor; perhaps unsurprisingly, he dresses up as a hall monitor for Halloween. Throughout the film, he makes sure to tell everyone he meets how to be safe on Halloween, and he will call a kid out if they take more than one piece of candy while trick-or-treating. He is depicted as the nicest guy in town, even though his only friends are his mother, the woman he’s secretly been in love with since elementary school and his fictional girlfriend living in “Ontarionto.” When some of his neighbors in Salem go missing, Hubie takes it upon himself to save the town.

The movie hits its first slump within 30 minutes when the story is propelled forward by the awful pranks the townspeople of Salem relentlessly pull on Hubie. Hubie Dubois is definitely an eccentric character, but he is thoughtful and kind throughout the film. The vast majority of the people in Salem make crude jokes toward him for no good reason, and it’s sad to see this behavior continue until the last five minutes of the movie. Slapstick comedy can be funny, but there’s a point where there is no humor in it. It’s just mean.

Another problem with the movie is its astronomical amount of side characters. Within the film, there is an escaped patient from an asylum (whose backstory is never explained), teenage partiers and undercover police officers. With so many side characters, it is difficult to remember what their purpose is in the movie. You may know their names and their occupations, but they just seem to be there for no reason. Sandler brought in his classic group of comedian friends you may recognize from “Grown Ups” or other Sandler films, as well as some other surprises. Do you remember Ravi (Karan Brar) from “Jessie”? He’s a jerk in this movie. “Hubie Halloween” could have been so much better if it limited the amount of characters we were supposed to keep track of.

The movie does accomplish some positives, though. “Hubie Halloween” will doubtlessly get you in the mood for Halloween, with costumes, apple bobbing and a potential witch burning. Still, “Hubie Halloween” pushes it too far. The jokes either don’t land well or, worse, push the envelope. For example, many people may not find the fact that Hubie compliments a Catholic woman in a mourning veil at a funeral for her “witch costume.” Sandler admirably tries to give us all some Halloween spirit with this film, but it just misses the mark.

 

Title: “Hubie Halloween”

Starring: Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen

Director: Steven Brill

Genre: Comedy

If you like: “Billy Madison,” “Grown Ups”

Shamrocks: 1 out of 5

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