Hubert Shubert “Hubie” DuBois isn’t necessarily the most self-aware guy you’ll ever meet. He doesn’t quite understand that his regular safety-focused patrols of the neighborhood make him a subject of ridicule—for kids and adults alike.
The fact that literally everyone in town makes fun of him or throws eggs and garbage at him while he peddles his bike down the street doesn’t seem to register with Hubie. And even though the local police make no secret that he’s more of an annoyance than a helpful citizen, he valiantly persists.
Hubie is determined to ensure that everyone is happy and harm-free, especially during Halloween, his favorite holiday. Hey, Halloween is a really big thing in Hubie’s home town of Salem, Massachusetts. And as an Official Volunteer Halloween Helper, he’s always around with his bicycle helmet and soup thermos firmly in place—whether anyone cares or not.
In fact, of all the town’s residents, only two people truly admire Hubie DuBois. That would be his loving mom, and a young woman he went to high school with named Violet Valentine. Hubie has always sorta pined for the kind-hearted Violet. But hey, she was voted Most Popular, Most Friendly and Best Looking back in school, so he’s convinced she’s definitely out of his league.
No, he’ll just go about doing his daily routine of pedaling the streets, dodging projectiles and making sure the kids stay safe.
And safety’s important, especially now. This year, with the arrival of a peculiar and particularly hairy new neighbor (who seems even more furry when that full moon shines bright), and the reported escape of a resident from a local psychiatric ward, Hubie’s ever-watching diligence may just come in handy. Either that or he’ll get pelted with bags of dog doodoo like last year. We’ll see.
Though Hubie is portrayed as a guy who’s a half-bubble off plumb, he really is a kind individual who does his best to keep kids safe. Other than working hard at a local deli and taking care of his aging mom, his concern for other people’s safety has become his central purpose in life. His mother even points the truth of that out to others, saying, “He can weather all your insults and thrown objects and he responds with humor and kindness.”
And though, most everyone else finds him worthy of ridicule, his kindness and goodness are what secretly appeal to Violet. She’s a kind and giving person herself—raising three foster kids as a single mom. In fact, Violet gives Hubie clear hints that she’d be open to dating if he’d like to (hints that Hubie misses for most of the movie).
Along with promoting the value of foster care, the film also ends with a strong anti-bullying message. The closing moments point out that everyone has things they struggle with in life and that demeaning others is a foolish choice. And if you are bullied, the film notes, it’s important to respond well. “True bravery is being kind, even to those who are being cruel to you,” someone notes.
[Spoiler Warning] Eventually love wins out and Hubie and Violet get together.
This is a Halloween pic, so we find lots of references to ghosts and other creepy creatures of the night. At one point it’s suggested that one guy may well be a werewolf affected by a curse. Hubie interrupts a funeral at a local gravesite and gets a local Catholic priest angry. Later that priest shows up dressed in a devil costume.
Taking place in Salem, we hear references made to the town’s famous witch trials. And we learn that an ancestor of Hubie’s was hung as a witch for actually speaking out against the trials.
Hubie points out that because his family was Jewish, he missed out on a number of holidays such as Christmas and Easter. That helped make Halloween his favorite holiday. Hubie wonders aloud why God would allow some of the things unfolding on that particular Halloween night. A local band sings about “dancing with the devil.”
There are a number of form-fitting costumes worn that accent feminine curves. And audiences see some provocative outfits on little kids, too. One very young girl, for example, is dressed in a “sexy” Harley Quinn outfit with short-shorts and stockings. The camera watches as she primps in front of a mirror.
On the other side of the scale, several elderly women buy some T-shirts from a thrift shop emblazed with crass, sexy and often obscene slogans that they don’t fully understand. The women innocently wear the shirts around, sparking some running crude gags. A man escapes an asylum, leaving a mostly Jell-O-made facsimile that includes an apparent erection.
We see some kids making out at a party. A husband and wife join in some sexual banter while at a drive-in, which includes a visual reference to oral sex. She eventually announces that she’s sexually unfulfilled. An elderly woman walks up to Hubie after he’s just finished having a conversation with the pretty Violet Valentine and says, “I’m asexual, but that girl’s makin’ me hella horny.”
Someone destroys the Halloween display on Hubie’s front yard, leaving the live-size figures of Frankenstein and Dracula in sexual poses.
Hubie and Violet kiss.
Some people are grabbed, bound and dragged off by an unknown assailant. They’re thrown great distances in some cases (a phenomenon that never explained). And eventually the victims are all tied to stakes and set up to be burned alive. (Someone stops the torment in the nick of time.)
Hubie is battered around quite a bit. He crashes his bike several times, stumbles over things, falls into open holes and generally gets thumped and bumped. One running gag has people throwing things at Hubie when he’s riding his bike or running away. Everything from eggs and dog poo to flaming arrows and large metal objects whiz by him, barely missing his ducking head.
Someone attacks and tears open a local farmer’s pig (off screen).
Four s-words are joined by a half-dozen uses each of “a–” and “h—” and a few uses of the words “b–ch,” “d–n” and “crap.” There are also six exclamations of “oh my god!”
Violet drinks wine. A radio host notes that she regularly calls in after having too many glasses of Chardonnay. At one point, Violet invites Hubie over for a glass of the stuff, but he admits that he’s not really a beer drinker.
Kids pour booze into the punch at a local party. A kid smokes an e-cigarette.
Crude jokes abound here ranging from people teasing Hubie with sexualized versions of his name to pranksters scaring him while he’s sitting on the toilet to visual and verbal jokes involving literal mounds of feces, gushers of vomit, and spurting urine. Bullies young and old tease Hubie relentlessly. And we see that bullying reflected between kids at school, too. A dog defecates and then eats what he’s dropped. The Mayor of Salem refuses to stop the local festivities even though he knows some lives may be in danger. Hubie steals a motorboat to save someone.
Humorous pics used to fall into a number of different categories. You had screwball sendups, winking satires, slapstick ticklers, artful verbal comedies and more. Yeah, movie scripts were even filled with things like thoughtful gags and witty interplay, believe it or not.
However, the comedy realm seems pretty lowbrow these days. If you don’t have someone regularly farting, vomiting, peeing or tossing poop in a modern laugher, well, your film is deemed to desperately need a high-priced script doctor. I mean, c’mon, that’s humor!
No worries on that front with Adam Sandler’s sixth film produced in partnership with Netflix. Hubie Halloween has all those requisite toilety giggles represented in its first three minutes. They dribble and flow throughout the film, accompanied by running sexual jokes and visual gags featuring the elderly wearing t-shirts covered in misunderstood sexual slogans.
Now, I won’t say this hapless giggle fest, and it’s 9-year-old mentality, is the worst comedy I’ve ever seen. We’re spared from f-bomb laden rants and bare-backside crudities. And there’s even an anti-bully lesson stapled onto the film’s conclusion like a tinfoil addition to one of Mom’s homemade Halloween costumes.
But be forewarned: getting to the chocolatey heart of this holiday pic is more gross-out trick than sweet treat.
After spending more than two decades touring, directing, writing and producing for Christian theater and radio (most recently for Adventures in Odyssey, which he still contributes to), Bob joined the Plugged In staff to help us focus more heavily on video games. He is also one of our primary movie reviewers.