THE PLOT In Salem, Massachusetts, a local do-gooder stumbles upon a Halloween mystery.
THE CAST Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Julie Bowen
RATED PG-13 (crude humor)
WHERE Streaming on Netflix
BOTTOM LINE Sandler's laugh-free special will land in your living room like a flaming paper bag.
Less than a year ago, Adam Sandler was the toast of Hollywood for his performance in "Uncut Gems," an intense crime drama that cast him as an unhinged gambling addict. Critics' groups showered him with awards, overlooking his reputation for puerile comedies like "Jack and Jill" and recalling instead his dramatic work in "Punch-Drunk Love." "Uncut Gems" was another glimmer of hope that Sandler would put his talent and intelligence to work in the service of high-quality cinema.
So much for that! "Hubie Halloween," Sandler's latest for Netflix, finds the 54-year-old comedian back at the bottom of his barrel. This seasonal comedy is notably lazy even by Sandler's standards, composed almost entirely of recycled and stolen ideas. Like much of Sandler's contractually mandated Netflix output, it seems utterly unconcerned with pulling in an audience or keeping one entertained. It doesn’t even seem to care if it insults the built-in audience it has.
Sandler plays another of his mush-mouthed man boys, this one named Hubie Dubois and bearing a strong resemblance to his Cajun caricature Bobby Boucher Jr., from "The Waterboy." A native of Salem, Massachusetts, Hubie is a wannabe cop who rides around on a bicycle giving public safety lessons to irritated citizens. When someone begins abducting locals during Salem's tourist-oriented Halloween festivities, Hubie will have to solve the mystery and save the day.
Sandler marshals his usual crew of the truly talented, the semi-amusing and the slightly depressing. Steve Buscemi plays a friendly neighbor with a strange secret, Long Island's Kevin James plays the arrogant Officer Steve in a cheap-looking wig and June Squibb is the doting mom Hubie still lives with. Longtime Sandler collaborators Colin Quinn and Rob Schneider take small roles. Tim Meadows and Maya Rudolph score a chuckle or two as Hubie's lifelong tormentors.
It's hard not to side with the irked townsfolk. Hubie is an annoying combination of clueless, clumsy and untouchable, protected by a magic thermos that can transform into an umbrella, a power drill, a grappling hook or a flare gun at a moment's notice. At times, "Hubie Halloween" seems aimed at children, though even they might turn their noses up at this movie's dopey sexual jokes and toilet talk.
A few bloopers during the credits suggest that Sandler has fun making his movies. That's wonderful, but would it be too much to ask Sandler to also make them well? If there's one thing audiences could use right now, it's a good laugh.