The Sunday Mail
OH, how the mighty have fallen!
There was once a time when the name Adam Sandler meant something in comedy.
The days when one greeted a “Happy Madison” release with excitement and child-like glee.
Talk of classics like “50 First Dates”, critical acclaims “Billy Madison”, “The Waterboy”, “The Wedding Singer” and “Happy Gilmore”.
Sadly, that time has passed.
It is now close to 20 years since the 54-year-old Sandler made anything of note.
And the more I keep looking forward to the comedian recapturing his old form, the more I am inclined to stop watching the genre altogether.
Sandler happens to be one of my favourite comedians.
I have followed his career from the “Saturday Night Live” (SNL) days, right up to his transition to film and his recent slip into obscurity.
That his nine-movie deal with the streaming service Netflix has been a disaster could arguably be the understatement of the year. The only thing of note out of that deal is last year’s plausible “Uncut Gems”.
His latest release “Hubie Halloween” could very well be the worst, and so was “The Ridiculous Six”.
“Hubie Halloween” tells the story of Salem Deli and village idiot Hubie Dubois, who for some reason has made it his life’s mission to ensure his town folk have the best and safest Halloween possible every year.
On this particular Halloween, the many years of unwanted policing and repeated safety lectures from Dubois could actually pay off as four of his neighbours mysteriously disappear.
Also, lurking in the night is an escaped patient from the town’s mental institution and the threat of an actual werewolf.
The only person privy to all these mysterious happenings is Hubie Dubois, who also has to balance ensuring the safety of his mother (June Squibb), declaring his love for his childhood crush Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen) and saving everybody.
If your initial reaction to the film’s pedestrian plot is a “yawn”, then you would be wiser than I was.
I wasted over 100 minutes of my life expecting something I would sink my teeth in this review.
The film follows every Adam Sandler trope, chief amongst them being a lazy and unimaginative plot, the lead screaming his dialogue and handing roles to a bunch of his old comedy and SNL friends.
In some instances, it works, with Kenan Thompson (Sgt Blake), Maya Rudolph and Tim Meadows (Mary and Lester Hennessey), China Anne Mcclain (Miss Taylor), Mikey Day (Axehead) and Kevin James (Steve Downey) all doing a solid job and almost saving the film.
It should be noted that with the exception of McClain, most of the aforesaid actors and actresses are comedy veterans and SNL links, so I am willing to bet my entire month’s salary that some form of improvisation went into their performances.
The saving grace of the entire film is a memorable cameo by NBA legend and soon-to-be-common Sandler collaborator, Shaquille O’Neal, the incomparable June Squibb and the old Adam Sandler movie Easter eggs scattered throughout the movie.
The Shaq cameo came as a genuine surprise and delight.
Next to Betty White, June Squibb could very well be my second favourite old white lady that casually shows up in comedies and steals the show.
Here, she stars as Hubie’s mother and has a running gag in which she wears these t-shirts that have some of the filthiest and naughtiest sayings on them.
The film was dedicated to the late Cameron Boyce, who died in his sleep on July 6 last year “due to a seizure”, which was a result of an ongoing medical condition for which he was being treated.
Boyce starred as Sandler’s son, Keithie Feder, in the marginally funny “Grown-ups” and “Grown-ups 2”.