Hubie Halloween is the latest release featuring the unique brand of comedy for which Adam Sandler (Little Nicky) is known. Unfortunately, a weak script by Sandler and Tim Herlihy (Big Daddy), frantic direction from Steven Brill (Mr. Deeds), and a stylistically unoriginal lead character make the film fall well short.
Hubie Dubois (Sandler) is a self-styled Halloween monitor in Salem, Massachusetts. However, he is afraid of everything except his own shadow, and even that is questionable. This makes him the butt of everyone’s jokes, from his former high school classmates to middle school bullies. As a result, when some of those bullying him begin to disappear, it is up to Hubie to solve the mystery, even if it scares him to death.
The film and script are standard fares for Sandler and his regular cast of Saturday Night Live alumni, with the added insult of being painfully predictable. This is part of what makes the movie suffer. At this point, their roles are so familiar that the performances blend completely together. Sandler, who has proven his ability to be funny in films like Little Nicky and a skilled actor through his performance in Uncut Gems, has reached the point that the village idiot character is no longer amusing; it is annoying. Because of this, there is not any of the crucial sympathy built for Hubie. It isn’t even that the script’s overall concept doesn’t have merit, but that it has been done to death by the same lead and background performers over the last twenty-five years. There is one ray of light in the Sandler irregulars, and that is Steve Buscemi as Walter Lambert, Hubie’s new neighbor. From the first moment he appears, Buscemi channels Don Knotts in all the best ways.
The sets and costumes feel more like a made-for-television afterschool special for pre-teens than something aimed at an audience over the age of twelve. As with the rest of the film, nothing is surprising – a haunted house, a corn maze, gaudily decorated homes, and even a high school dance. To be safe, the old dark house is thrown in for good measure. This seals the deal on the entire feature being “been there, done that.”
Hubie Halloween, despite the new setting, fails to entertain like many of Sandler’s previous efforts. Instead, a predictable script, cookie-cutter direction, and yet another oddball character for the SNL veteran combine for a Halloween trick nobody wants.