With strong word of mouth and better reviews than any mainstream Adam Sandler comedy since The wedding singer, the intentional return of his days as an A-level movie star should be a holiday favorite.
Hubie Halloween is this weekend’s most popular movie on Netflix and almost certainly the most-watched movie this weekend. The kid-friendly Halloween comedy, a sort of never-before-seen riff on Jim Varney’s Ernest P. Worrell films, was initially seen as delivering Sandler on a threat to make an intentionally terrible movie if he didn’t win a Oscar for Uncut Gems. Not only is it not that movie (it was shot before awards season), but it’s one of Sandler’s most acclaimed live-action comedies. Its 50% “fresh” (average rating of 5.2 / 10 reviews) Rotten tomatoes actually rates Sandler’s best-commented live straight comedy since The wedding singer in 1998. This makes sense, as the film is a voluntary ode to the lost fantasy male escape comedies, closer to Le Waterboy what This is my boy, which made Sandler a mega-star in the first place.
The wedding singer transformed Sandler from a beloved comic book actor into a multi-quadrant movie star. The purposely upbeat and “sweet” romantic comedy, starring Drew Barrymore, was one of the only films to open during Titanicfour months reign of terror at the top of the charts and live to tell the story. It opened on Valentine’s Day weekend with a start of $ 19 million from Friday to Monday, rising to $ 80.2 million in part by offering love sickness Titanic fans a different, but no less heartfelt romantic melodrama for a date night. The film scored 68% fresh and was even considered a “surprisingly good” Sandler comedy. That would put him on the A-list, but it would be his last well-reviewed studio live-action shot. Yes Wedding singer ignited an era of 80s nostalgia, then Hubie Halloween is rooted in nostalgia for the days when Sandler was a leading movie star.
The film is a throwback to vehicles from the late 1990s / early 2000s, think Le Waterboy ($ 185 million on a budget of $ 23 million), Big daddy ($ 235 million / $ 34 million / 1999) and M. Deeds ($ 171 million / $ 50 million / 2002), which defined the mainstream comic book vehicle Sandler. The films offered an oppressed sentimentality and “Am I not a stinker?” Innocence, with a strong undercurrent of “snobs versus slobs” or “innocent wide-eyed triumphs over know-it-all bullies.” They had their share of PG-13 vulgarity and “boyish humor” (they were male-specific escape fantasies), but the most popular had general decency and cuteness (though Happy Gilmore himself was a violent psychopath who happened to be our protagonist). Of note, they often reached their peak with the “winner” character of Sandler by willingly giving up the “MacGuffin” (adopted child, father’s company, a $ 40 billion inheritance, etc.) for the most. great good.
In an era when a studio could make its fortune with star-animated originals and high-profile adaptations, Adam Sandler’s mainstream comic book vehicles steadily pocketed $ 31-48 million on opening weekends. from 1998 (Le Waterboy) to 2010 (Just go there) to become Sony’s largest “franchise”. But even during this period, the public was not always willing to deviate from the formula. The fantastic and relatively ambitious Petite Nicky bombed in late 2000 ($ 58 million on a budget of $ 85 million), while Paul Thomas Anderson is acclaimed Punch Drunk Love (a dark romantic comedy that was as much a deconstruction of Sandler’s comic character as The cable guy was for Jim Carrey) did about as well as a Paul Thomas Anderson film was expected ($ 24.7 million worldwide). As Onion satirically but correctly expressed at the time, fans were “disappointed” with his “intelligent and nuanced performance.”
The crowd also didn’t show up for Judd Apatow’s deeply personal and sprawling comedic melodrama. Funny people. The comparatively well evaluated (69% in 2009) but which divides (compared to Blistered and The 40 year old Virgin) film about a comedian who gets a final diagnosis and tries to rekindle himself with a long-standing romantic interest (Leslie Mann), bombed by $ 71 million worldwide on a budget of $ 75 million. It has been argued that the failure of this film, as well as disappointing receptions for the 9/11 drama Rule over me and 2007 et Spanglish in 2004, this essentially led Sandler to “ditch” more engaging mainstream comic book vehicles. Not unlike my own theory that Tyler Perry’s utter rejection For colorful girls (clearly meant to be his proverbial Schindler’s list) ten years ago, Perry quit trying to be a better filmmaker, but I’m digressing.
Sandler’s mid-2000s vehicles saw the actor go from the underdog to the guy who had already won in life. It’s no different than Steven Spielberg since Jaws and AND at Minority report and The pole, with blue-collar protagonists pitting the system against top-of-the-world protagonists who clash while representing the system. This is not a review, but it may explain why Catch Me If You Can emerges in his post-Crochet filmography. There is a difference between M. Deeds, about an everyday “schlub” who instantly becomes a billionaire and movies like Click on, Grow up, mixed up and even You’re not messing with the Zohan (with him playing an Israeli superspy) where the protagonists of Sandler are financially secure adults who learn to appreciate their success and / or take their families on lavish vacations. Same sound (surprisingly good) Hotel Transylvania the toons present him as Count Dracula, owner of the successful hotel.
When Sandler tried to regain his “advantage” in strange projects like Jack et Jill ($ 150 million out of a budget of $ 79 million in 2011) and the R-Rated This is my boy (who positioned Sandler as Andy Samberg’s horrible dad and only earned $ 58 million in 2012), the public didn’t show up. They also did not appear in the hunt for misguided nostalgia. Mixed (his third film with Drew Barrymore, which grossed $ 128 million on a budget of $ 40 million in 2014) or the inexplicably vulgar and the guardian-y Pixels ($ 245 million / $ 88 million). Adults 2 ($ 247 million / $ 80 million in 2013) didn’t help Sandler more than Men in black 3 “Helped” Will Smith. Along with the general decline of star-directed theatrical comedy, Sandler has gone from the starving underdog to the adult enjoying the status quo. Like Eddie Murphy, we’ve gone from the firecracker creating comedy to the straight reacting to comedy in his midst.
Hubie Halloween is absolutely a throwback to the old school of “PG-13 but okay for the kids”, the mainstream triumph of the underdog Adam Sandler. Heck, he even recalls it with Billy Madison co-starring Julie Bowden. The film, about a city outcast who spends his days obsessively making sure townspeople stay out of trouble which is then put to the test when real peril strikes on Halloween night, is a “classic” Sandler character (wacky voice, man-child personality, clumsy mannerisms, dubious intelligence, dominant decency, etc.). While some of these films involve the Sandler protagonist realizing his own worth, this time it’s the townspeople who ultimately come to appreciate their overzealous protector. It sounds like an assertion of the cultural value of the conventional Sadler comic book vehicle, with its ode to oppressive decency and goodness stinging harder in 2020 than it might have in 2010.
Hubie Halloween is a nostalgic throwback that earns better reviews than the genuine articles. To be fair, those who grew up savoring Happy Gilmore, the Waterboy and Big daddy now represent the adult critical establishment. It is also the same “safe for children” attitude that has helped Hotel Transylvania, with much of the outright vulgarity (and gender issues) kept at bay, in family-friendly blockbusters. These toons are easily Sandler’s biggest hits, at $ 1.357 billion across three films. Most of Sandler’s Netflix release was about trying to be “nervous” (The ridiculous 6) or struggles in the middle of life (Murder mystery). Hubie Halloween is arguably Sandler’s first Netflix film that positions itself as the kind of Sandler comic book vehicle that made him a movie star. In terms of critical response combined with probable audience totals, Hubie Halloween is Sandler’s biggest live-action hit in a very long time.