Does the “moron comedy” have a future? After Adam Sandler ages out of them, I mean?
Sandler’s latest for Netflix, “Hubie Halloween” has him freezing his face in perma-stupor, and doing the dopey dunce voice — just like the old days. It’s a PG-13 childish (kid-friendly-ish, too) spook spoof, and thus is more on-brand than most of his Netflix fare.
A few pranks, some slapstick, some pratfalls, with a modern “Stooge” as the hero. Not many laughs, but hey — he’s keeping the “moron comedy” genre alive.
Everybody in Salem, Mass., “America’s unofficial Halloween Capital,” picks on Hubie Dubois (Sandler). He’s become an expert at ducking everything tossed at him when he bikes to work at the supermarket’s deli counter, and at letting most of the insults that come his way from the likes of Ray Liotta, Kevin James (in a wig, shades and beard as Officer Steve). “Pubie” is one that stings, and sticks, though.
“That nickname spread like warm peanut butter,” he mutters.
Halloween, though, is Hubie’s time to shine. He’s “Salem’s Unofficial Volunteer Halloween Helper,” lecturing school kids, policing trick-or-treating, urging candy-giving generosity, booze-free teen parties and generally being a kill-job/
One big problem with that, aside from the relentless “Watch it, G.I. Jackass” abuse, is he’s easy frightened. Pranking and scaring him is no challenge at all.
And on this particular Halloween, the frights just might be…REAL.
A murderous nut has escaped the nearby asylum, thanks to the new orderly (Ben Stiller). Hubie and his mom (June Squibb) have a new neighbor who warns them to pay no mind “if you ever hear some commotion from over at my house.”
He’s played by Steve Buscemi. Beware. BEWARE.
Is it any surprise that folks start to go missing in Salem? Can Hubie calm his fears and crack the case?
There’s the standard collection of pee-pee and dog poop jokes.
The “out of his league” love interest is a high school classmate (Julie Bowen) Hubie pines for and calls “girl,” even though she — like he — graduated in 1984 (They’re both 54).
“Hubie” is the usual “make-work” project for Sandler’s Crap Pack — Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Rob Schneider, Dan Patrick et al. And four lesser Sandlers and assorted little Quinn, Liotta and James offspring have bit parts.
The best gag has a hint of “American Graffiti” at the radio station to it. And I liked the way the script tries to upend expectations with a goofy turned “and the moral of the story, kids” finale.
It’s less hateful than usual, but not funny at all — pretty much par for the “Happy Madison” course, in other words.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for crude and suggestive content, language and brief teen partying.
Cast: Adam Sandler, June Squibb, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Kenan Thompson, Tim Meadows, Ray Liotta, Maya Rudolph, Michael Chiklis, Ben Stiller and of course, Colin Quinn, Rob Schneider and Dan Patrick.
Credits: Directed by Steven Brill, script by Tim Herlihy and Adam Sandler. A Netflix release.
Running time: 1:43