I Watched ‘Hubie Halloween’ So You Don’t Have To (You Probably Still Should)

It’s a cold and rainy October day in New York. The leaves have begun to change and the palpable feeling of fall has arrived. On days like this I want to really lean in; get me a thick blanket and some cinnamon pumpkin spiced vanilla-capa-bullshit drink, I’m ready to fall. The only thing missing is a good movie to watch. Like any cinephile still in possession of their faculties, I devote the entirety of my October viewing to Halloween. I have a system — the first of the month through the eleventh is almost exclusively Hocus Pocus. I’ll sprinkle in some Disney Channel originals like Halloweentown or Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire, but I pretty much stick to scripture here. Then, from the twentieth through Halloween I commit to horror (with the exception of one final Hocus Pocus viewing to finish off the month.) We’re talking all the classic slashers; A Nightmare on Elm Street, Friday the 13th, Scream, the list goes on. As you can see, I’m currently in an October purgatory of my own making. I have a gap; nothing on the calendar between the twelfth and the nineteenth. I panic scroll to Youtube and stumble onto some pumpkin carving videos, but its all twelve year old kids and I’m stoned and I simply need to be done with this. I switch to Netflix and flirt with some murder documentaries, but I’ve seen the good ones and even those aren’t very good so here we are at another dead end. Then I see it. The goddamn algorithm does it again. Do I love Halloween? Yes. Do I love Adam Sandler? Holy shit.

Enter: Hubie Halloween (spoilers ahead).

Within the first few minutes I’m seeing Ben Stiller reprise his role as the evil nurse, Hal, from Happy Gilmore, as well as aerial shots of Salem, Massachusetts. I could not be more in on this movie. From there it gets so much better, and so, so much worse. The hallmark Happy Madison actors are all there: Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, and Rob Schneider. David Spade and Chris Rock are unfortunately MIA. There’s also a few great additions to the normal cast, including Keenan Thompson, Ray Liotta (seriously) and Noah Schnapp (possessed bowl cut kid from Stranger Things). Julie Bowen gives us a second Happy Gilmore reunion. We get a rogue “O’Doyle rules!” from someone offscreen in an homage to Billy Madison. Sandler’s entire family is in this movie.

So here are the broad strokes.

Hubie Dubois (Sandler) is a middle aged good Samaritan (narc) with an inappropriate love of Halloween. He lives at home with his mom (June Squibb) and for some reason his north star is some great great great great grandmother who decided to speak out in defense of women during the Salem witch trials. He is teased and harassed relentlessly by the rest of the town who, along with Hubie, have lived in Salem their whole lives. The only person who treats Hubie with any respect is his lifelong love interest, Violet Valentine (Bowen), who he’s been trying to express his affection to since they were kids. On Halloween, while Hubie makes his regular rounds around town to make sure everyone is being safe (narc), some strange disappearances begin happening. Guided by the love of his hometown and the memory of his super dead ancestor, Hubie knows it’s up to him to save the day (the police chief is Kevin James so this part actually tracks).

Earlier this year Sandler was on The Howard Stern Show discussing his role in Uncut Gems, and his Oscar nomination for the film. When pressed on how he would react if he didn’t win, Sandler told Stern, “If I don’t get it, I’m going to fucking come back and do one again that is so bad on purpose just to make you all pay. That’s how I get them.” Going into Hubie Halloween, I was fully prepared to witness Sandler’s ‘fuck you’ film. It had all the makings. But I actually don’t think this was a terrible movie. It was absolutely ridiculous and I don’t know that I would call this a good movie, but I was never tempted to jump ship and just turn it off (high bar, I know). In the pantheon of Sandler’s Happy Madison comedies, does it approach the heights of Happy Gilmore or Billy Madison? No. Not even remotely close. But is it better than, say, Jack and Jill? Yes. Everything is better than Jack and Jill. If you haven’t seen it, forget I mentioned it. Please, seriously, do not seek out Jack and Jill. In Hubie Halloween there are twists and turns and misdirects. In classic fashion, Sandler’s voice is wonderful and barely tolerable. Of course the list of things you could nitpick is as long as the movie itself, but if you’re watching Hubie Halloween with a critical eye you’re a fucking psychopath. You watch this movie for the same reason you watch all of Sandler’s comedies; to see him and the rest of the cast. One thing you hear Sandler say often in interviews is how much he loves just making movies with his friends. They go to fun locations and they bring their families and whether the movie is any good is almost secondary to being with each other and the process of making it. Watching this movie in 2020, knowing all that added a unique layer to the experience. Many of us have been isolated and away from our loved ones for most of the year, and seeing this group of friends all together was surprisingly nostalgic and almost cathartic. Sandler’s wife (Jackie Sandler) and both of his daughters have roles in the movie. Nearly the whole recurring Happy Madison cast had screen time. It felt like a reunion and that might have been the best part of the film.

If you’ve made it this far you’re obviously considering watching the movie. Chances are at some point this month you’ll be sitting at home, staring longingly out the window wondering when things will be normal again. You’ll think about baking some bread or scrolling through social media, and that’s when it will click (classic Sandler movie). You’ll grab that remote and smash the power button, navigating as quickly as you can to the sweet relief that is Hubie Halloween. Before you know it you’ll be sitting on your couch eating popcorn, watching a stupid, funny Adam Sandler movie. How much more normal can it get?

NYC by way of PDX — Writing about culture, sports, and politics.

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