“Hubie Halloween,” 2020, directed by Steve Brill – 1/5 Stars
Adam Sandler has starred in a lot of bad movies. Alongside producer Jack Giarraputo, Sandler created Happy Madison Productions, which has brought audiences infamous gems like “Pixels,” “Jack and Jill” and “Grown Ups.” This month, “Hubie Halloween” joined the roster of shockingly terrible comedies, featuring what might be Sandler’s most insultingly lazy performance yet.
“Hubie Halloween” follows Hubert Schubert Dubois — yes, really — played by Sandler, a developmentally challenged middle-aged man who lives with his mother in Salem, Mass. Hubert, or Hubie, as he is called, seems to be universally bullied by the entire town. Whenever he rides his bicycle from place to place, his neighbors throw whatever they can at him. He is easily scared, and his coworkers find great glee in pranking him with scary masks. The majority of the movie is spent torturing Hubie as a character, and it is unclear if we are meant to laugh at his suffering or to feel bad for him. This is made even more confusing by the fact that Sandler’s characterization is an over-the-top, ridiculous and very offensive portrayal of a differently abled person. This contradiction carries throughout, concluding with preaching a message about loving and accepting others — something the movie itself does not seem to do.
Despite clocking in at only around an hour and 40 minutes, this sorry excuse for a film feels much longer. The star-studded cast, including Maya Rudolph, Steve Buschemi, Ray Liotta and even Noah Schnapp of “Stranger Things” fame, slog through a boring, derivative script, mired in dated tropes and unfunny, nonsensical dialogue. The romantic subplot between Hubie and his high school crush feels forced and stilted, and Kevin James’ performance as a police officer is eye-rollingly trite.
All this being said, there are a few chuckles to be had when watching this depressingly vapid snoozefest. One of the few somewhat redeeming moments in the movie features a surprise appearance from Shaquille O’Neal in a scene so ridiculous and silly that you cannot help but laugh, even if you are laughing at the movie rather than with it. There are a few other laughs throughout, though none of them are memorable.
“Hubie Halloween” is not even entertainingly bad. The formula that it employs has been seen a million times over, and most of the cast, including Sandler, seem disinterested and unenthusiastic. Everything about it is tired and clichéd, from the writing, to the predictable humor, to the horribly overused greenscreen. What makes this banality so painful is not just its existence; we can all go for a silly, familiar comedy every once in a while. No, what makes “Hubie Halloween” so painfully awful is that it seems to lack any sort of self-awareness. It can be felt through the screen while watching that this latest Sandler flick was a shameless cash grab made by a group of aging men who are desperately trying, and failing, to keep up with the times, all while quickly losing enthusiasm for their own work. In short, it does not seem like anyone who worked on “Hubie Halloween” really cared if the movie was good or not, nor did they make any sort of effort to make something original or even remotely entertaining.