Way back in December 2019, Adam Sandler joked that if he was not given at least the nomination for Best Actor at the 2020 Oscars for his career redefining performance in Uncut Gems, he would make a movie "so bad on purpose" as revenge. Months later, that movie is Hubie Halloween, but what if it's not?
What Happened? — On Thursday, Netflix released the trailer for Hubie Halloween starring Adam Sandler and directed by frequent Sandler collaborator Steven Brill. The two worked together previously on 2003's Mr. Deeds and Sandler's Netflix movies The Do-Over and Sandy Wexler.
In Hubie Halloween, Sandler plays Hubie, a middle-aged community volunteer who spends every Halloween making sure his neighbors in Salem, Massachusetts have a safe Hallows' Eve. In return, the people of Salem ridicule and mock poor Hubie. But when a killer is loose and people start disappearing, it's up to Hubie to save the day.
Like most of Adam Sandler's lighthearted comedies, the film sports an all-star ensemble including Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Rob Schneider, Michael Chiklis, Kenan Thompson, Noah Schnapp, and even Shaquille O'Neal in what looks like a cameo appearance.
You can watch the trailer for Hubie Halloween below.
The Last Laugh — In the '90s, after he was fired from Saturday Night Live, Adam Sandler rose to stardom appearing in comedies like Billy Madison (1995), Happy Gilmore (1996), and The Wedding Singer (1998). In the new millennium, Sandler's career didn't slow down, but acclaim was behind him as he starred in goofball movies like You Don't Mess With the Zohan (2008). A lucrative Netflix deal in the mid-2010s produced even more movies of the type, like The Ridiculous 6, which holds a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
In late 2019, Sandler starred in Uncut Gems, a crime thriller directed by the Safdie brothers in which he played a gambling addict in New York's Diamond District. Amid the buzz surrounding Sandler's celebrated performance, the actor threatened to make a movie so awful if he was not finally recognized by the Academy. “If I don’t get it, I’m going to f—ing come back and do one again that is so bad on purpose just to make you all pay," Sandler declared in an appearance on Howard Stern's radio show. "That’s how I get them.”
Fast forward a few months, and there's Hubie Halloween, where Adam Sandler's thermos doubles as a grappling hook and there are still jokes about Black people in the dark. Yikes.
Is Hubie Sandler's revenge? — Hubie Halloween both is and isn't Adam Sandler's revenge. It isn't, because Hubie Halloween was written and shot way before the release of Uncut Gems; principal photography commenced in July 2019. So, literally speaking, Hubie Halloween isn't Sandler's "revenge" for his Uncut Gems snub.
But a close look at Hubie Halloween and it does seem to be an abstract expression of Sandler's bitterness. Acknowledging that Sandler has an enviable career and has regularly worked in Hollywood for close to three decades, Hubie, like Sandler, is mocked and maybe misunderstood for his eccentricities. When Hubie stumbles upon something serious that is actually worth paying attention to, he's ignored.
"It's pretty impressive how long he's been a loser," says Maya Rudolph, whose character in the film is a childhood friend of Hubie. Another local remarks it's a "Salem tradition" to ridicule Hubie.
Also, it can't be a coincidence that Hubie speaks in a strikingly similar voice to Sandler's other roles in movies like The Waterboy, which he referenced directly in his Twitter response to getting snubbed by the Oscars.
The Inverse Analysis — Admittedly, this is all too deep of a reading into a Netflix movie trailer. The story of Hubie Halloween is basically an Aesop fable updated to include Harley Quinn references. The movie exists just fine without reading it as another Funny People.
But in the spirit of the season, Adam Sandler may have a treat rather than another one of his usual tricks.
Hubie Halloween will stream on Netflix on October 7.