I don’t want to jinx it, y’all, but I think we ended up with two funny Happy Madison movies released in the same calendar year. Kind of wild to consider, from the production studio more known for half-assery than for ouright laughs. Yet here we are.

Hubie Halloween (streaming on Netflix, right meow) is actually pretty good, and was full of unexpected surprises. We’re still in the darkest timeline and it’s gonna be a weird, quiet Halloween this year (no bobbing for apples or party punch for this ol’ cowboy, anyway). So I’ll take what I can get when it comes to spooky season enjoyment. I think this movie gets a lot of mileage out of its deep cast (including Shaq, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi, Tim Meadows, and Maya Rudolph), and my only real advice is that you don’t give up on the movie. I was a little put off by Sandler’s voice and mannerisms early on (I almost turned it off once he broke out his high school yearbook), but I’m glad that I stuck with it.

I can’t tell if it just starts very slowly or if it took a while for me to get on its wavelength, but I’d say that the first 30 minutes felt like a lot of forced jokes and table-setting. But soon after, it unfolds into a well-paced faux-slasher movie. There are even a couple of red herrings.

I don’t want to give away much of the plot and certainly don’t want to spoil any jokes, but here’s a better synopsis than what the Netflix trailer delivers. Sandler plays a man named Hubie Dubois who has dedicated himself to keeping the people of Salem, Massachusetts safe on Halloween. Because this is just one day a year, he seemingly occupies his time the rest of the year being a busybody. People in town treat him with disdain at best and outright hostility at worst. Hubie is very easy to scare, and the movie has roughly 5,000 Sandler freakouts in it (these are all pretty good. I’m less keen on the unnecessary pratfalls, but those are a Happy Madison staple. Oh well.). Over the course of Halloween, Hubie encounters abductions, a possible werewolf, and townies who love to throw things at him. Will he make it through the night in one piece?

Some parting thoughts:

  • I thought that the thermos would be a dumb gag, but the repetition makes it funny.
  • Shaq’s scene: Very funny, very unexpected.
  • Julie Bowen: I love Julie Bowen. I’m glad that Modern Family is over, so she hopefully is in more movies.
  • Steve Buscemi plays a great weirdo! The way that they resolved his storyline was damned funny and I didn’t see it coming.
  • Ray Liotta’s career turn into screwball comedies is still jarring to me, but he’s very good here.
  • Kevin James I can take or leave, but he has a great joke near the end.
  • I’d happily watch a domestic melodrama about the sexual frustrations of Tim Meadows’ and Maya Rudolph’s characters. They wring a lot of humor and pathos out of their scenes.
  • Hubie’s mom’s t-shirts from Goodwill made me laugh every single time. It’s so dumb, but like with the thermos, the commitment to the gag makes it funny.
  • The Michael Myers-esque character’s unmasking was also unexpected and funny. I don’t want to ruin it.