Every celebrity starts somewhere, be it California, Montana, even small town Iowa. Being from New Hampshire, there are only a few celebrity heroes that come to mind: Seth Meyers, originally from Bedford NH, Our Last Night, a metalcore band originally hailing from Hollis, NH, and the man, the myth, the legend, Adam Sandler from Manchester, NH. One thing that seems like a regular thing with people living in New Hampshire is that somehow everyone knows someone who went to high school with Adam Sandler. For me, it was that I used to go to church with a woman who grew up playing flag football with Sandler in elementary school before he got famous. I haven’t lived in many other states, but this seems much more unique in New Hampshire than it would be in any other states. Maybe it has to do with the density of famous people from their respective states compared to New Hampshire or something, I don’t know.
Because of this New Hampshire pride, everyone usually is pretty forgiving of Adam Sandler’s work. Of course, in the early stages of his film career, there wasn’t really anything to be “forgiven.” Sandler was one of the greatest comedians on Saturday Night Live until getting fired in the 90s, and later on went to produce some of my favorite comedies of that time. Airheads, Billy Madison, Happy Gilmore, The Waterboy, and Big Daddy were all released within 5 years of each other, and are some of, if not the most, recognizable comedy films of the 1990s. After those, he had some decent movies, but all around, Adam Sandler became an actor that made some regular stinkers. Some of those, like Jack and Jill from 2011, are thought to be some of the worst comedy movies OF ALL TIME. Not of the 2000s, not of the 2010s, OF. ALL. TIME.
After delivering a decade of garbage to the big screen, Sandler signed a deal with Netflix. In 2014, Adam Sandler signed a six movie deal with the streaming service and released, arguably, six of his WORST movies he’s ever made, starting with 2015’s The Ridiculous Six and ending with 2019’s Murder Mystery. These movies weren’t received well critically. But the fact of the matter is that Murder Mystery was one of Netflix’s highest viewed movies at the time of its release.
What really hurt about Adam Sandler’s fall from grace was that he has proven that he can still act. Act well even. Despite its ridiculous plot, 2012’s The Cobbler was one of the most touching Adam Sandler movies I’d seen in years. Even after that, there was some Oscar buzz for his performance in 2017s the Meyerowitz Stories, and who could forget his gripping portrayal as Howie Ratnor in 2019’s Uncut Gems. He portrayed such a gripping character, and his performance was honestly kind of scary at times with how money oriented he could be over a rock. The film got numerous nominations, including Best Actor, Best Picture, and Best Editing from the Critics Choice Awards, The Razzie Redeemer Award at the Golden Raspberry Awards, and Best Feature and Screenplay at the Independent Spirit Awards. It also WON for Best Male Lead, Best Director, and Best Editing at the Spirit Awards.
With all of these awards in the bag, it looked like Adam Sandler could have risen back to his former glory as a reformed Dramatic Actor. He had the chops, he had the talk, he had the spirit. Sandler was so confident in securing more nominations, he even jokingly said in an interview that if he didn’t get any nominations at the Oscars, he would “make a movie that’s so bad on purpose, that’ll make you all pay.”
Cut to the Academy Awards Nominations List in November of 2019, and the movie wasn’t anywhere to be seen. Not for Sandler as Best Male Lead. Not for the Safdie Brothers as Best Directing. Not for Best Screenplay, or Drama Feature, or anything else. The movie completely got snubbed. A few months later, Sandler signed a deal with Netflix to do four more movies. For $250 Million.
Which brings us to today, when I sat down to watch the first Netflix original from Sandler since his 2020 Oscars snub, Hubie Halloween. Hubie Halloween is not only an abomination, but it’s also a huge disappointment coming from the history of Sandler. It goes back to his “roots” as a grown child navigating a world of what seems to be every bully in the entire state of Massachusetts, congregated entirely in Salem, MA.
Sandler plays as Hubie Dubois, an adult that seemingly has some kind of mental illness that acts as the sole person responsible for making sure children are safe on Halloween. It’s a great sentiment until you realize that, theoretically, he also prepares for this holiday year-round. Because he is weird and “different,” Hubie is bullied by all of his neighbors: ranging from his high school football captain that has become the chief of police, random teenagers he works with at his local deli, or even local elementary school students looking to feel some kind of superiority.
This Halloween, Hubie hears of a string of abductions happening in his own town. As the Halloween Monitor, Hubie feels it is his job to find out who the culprit is. Throughout the film, we run into many strange characters with motive, such as his strange new neighbor Walter, played by Steve Buscimi, an escapee from a mental health institution, or even the mayor of the town of Salem. I wouldn’t rob the audience of the twist ending, so if you have any interest at all in finding out more, watch at your own risk!
What is really unfortunate about this movie is that there are some really good actors and some interesting subplots that the writers try to normalize. For instance, Noah Schnapp (Stranger Things) plays the adoptive son of Hubie’s love interest, Violet Valentine. He doesn’t give an amazing performance, but he looks like he had a lot of fun shooting a movie such as this with one of the most recognizable comedic actors of all time. The fact that they have a family with adopted children is also a wonderful bit of inclusion on the writers’ part, as adopted families aren’t really in movies in which that isn’t the main story bit. They’re just there existing, just like everyone else.
Like most of his productions, Sandler also makes sure his friends get a cut. Prominent roles are given to Kevin James, Rob Schneider, Maya Rudolph, and Kenan Thompson. Adam Sandler, in all of his comedic movies, has a really interesting viewpoint of “if i eat, the whole family eats,” making sure his best friends can get movie roles no matter what. It’s really humbling to see a celebrity share in the wealth of making movies with his friends and making sure they’re alright.
The end of the movie shows one of the most unbelievable scenes i’ve seen in awhile. Hubie confesses his love to Violet, claiming that he had been in love with her since the second grade. Violet turns around and claims that she had been in love with him since the first grade. Now don’t get me wrong, i’m a hopeless romantic that loves the idea of finally finding love and getting together with someone if it’s true love. However, these people have been in the same town as each other for decades, from context clues it seems like they see each other on a daily basis, and these characters are in their fifties, are we in the audience supposed to believe that there wasn’t a single opportunity in the thirty years after high school there was never one opportunity where one of them reached out to the other to get a cup of coffee and try to date? I completely understand being afraid to ask someone out on a date, but after this long and them not even being close friends seems a bit ridiculous to me. Maybe if the characters were younger or this movie was released in the prime Sandler age, it would be more believable.
And that is pretty much a way to wrap up this whole movie. It isn’t a good movie, not by any stretch. The characters are one dimensional, the performances are bland, the jokes are childish, and i feel like watching this was an hour and forty five minutes i won’t ever get back. If this movie was released in the 90s, right after Billy Madison or something along those lines, i think I would forgive a lot of what happens in the movie. If I wasn’t shown the capabilities of Adam Sandler as an actor in other movies in the past and yearned for performances as gripping as those, I feel like I would forgive a lot of this movie. But now that I have a taste of the good Sandler, I just want more.
Hubie Halloween can be viewed now on netflix.com with a premium Netflix subscription.