If you look over on Rotten Tomatoes at Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix travesty, Hubie Halloween, you will see an inexplicable 50 percent Tomatometer score. Granted, it’s not a particularly good score, but it’s still a much, much better score than it deserves. Hubie Halloween — which features Adam Sandler donning his Waterboy voice while wearing a mustache; Steve Buscemi making fart jokes while playing a mentally disabled man who thinks he’s a werewolf; Shaquille O’Neal with a woman’s voice and Betsy Sodaro with a man’s voice, and Julie Bowen kissing her television screen — is no better than any of other Adam Sandler Netflix projects, like Sandy Wexler (27 percent), The Do Over (9 percent), or The Ridiculous 6 (0 percent).
Hubie Halloween is bad. It’s as lazy and idiotic as every other Happy Madison project over the last decade, and equally wastes the talents of a decent cast (Bowen, Buscemi, June Squibb, Maya Rudolph), whose paychecks I do not begrudge. I don’t even begrudge Sandler for accepting an obscene amount of money from Netflix to make absolute garbage movies and hang out with his friends.
What I cannot abide, however, are all the positive reviews, the 50 percent of critics (and 58 percent of “top critics”) who thought this movie was anything other than excremental, sophomoric juvenalia. This movie is moronic, and as a family film, I wouldn’t dare show it to my children, and I don’t understand why any kind of mouth-breathing adult would willingly sit through it, either.
In fact, I don’t understand how or when the baseline on Adam Sandler movies changed, why critics have suddenly become more forgiving. Have movie reviews, likewise, become regressive under the Trump Administration? Are we suddenly allowing Adam Sandler some leeway because he knows that his movies are bad, because he was funny on SNL 25 years ago, or because he didn’t shit his pants in the Safdie Brothers’ Uncut Gems? Does starring in a Film Twitter movie make him more acceptable to Film Twitter? Because let’s be honest about Sandler’s performance in Uncut Gems: It was as adequate as his performances in Reign Over Me and Punch-Drunk Love and Spanglish. But adequate was all it was.
Adam Sandler is not a good actor, which is why he didn’t get an Oscar nomination for Uncut Gems. However, whenever Adam Sandler manages to go a full 90-120 minutes without drooling all over himself or doing a dumb voice, he is treated by some in the film reviewing community with inexplicable reverence. He was fine in Uncut Gems, but a better actor might have actually been nominated for an Oscar. Put Gyllenhaal in that film, and it’s twice is good, although it would not have had the “novelty” of a “prestige” film starring Adam Sandler, which really isn’t all that novel anymore.
I like Adam Sandler. He seems like a good dude. He doesn’t rock boats. He has made some really culturally f**ked up films (like I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry and Jack and Jill), but he’s managed to keep his nose clean personally by being loyal to his friends and being affable in public. That doesn’t make him a good actor or screenwriter. Some people will — consciously or unconsciously — dock a film if one of its stars is a real-life asshole, and I understand the instinct to discredit, for instance, a Mel Gibson film because it stars him. But Adam Sandler’s supposed likability should not earn him extra points when he makes a terrible film.
Here’s a true story, that I just remembered because I noticed who directed this film. His name is Steve Brill, and he also directed Sandy Wexler and The Do-Over, but he also directed Sandler’s last stand-up special, Adam Sandler: 100 Percent Fresh. That stand-up special was fairly well regarded, although with the exception of the Farley song, the song that Sandler wrote for his wife, and his legit funny assault on movie critics, I thought it was — on the whole — a mediocre nostalgia trip that mostly illustrated that Adam Sandler hasn’t really matured that much as a person since SNL, which … fine. If you loved Adam Sandler in 1993, then you’ll probably love 100 Percent Fresh.
Anyway, I did like the title, 100 Percent Fresh, because it’s a touch of self-deprecation that illustrates that, if anything, Adam Sandler is in on the joke. As for Rotten Tomatoes itself, I don’t really pay much attention to it, and I don’t submit my reviews over there, because — while it might be a nice ego thing — I could give two shits about it as a publisher because you only get 3 or 4 clicks from an RT link (think about it: How many times have you ever clicked over to an RT review?). Monetarily, they are useless.
I don’t really know how it works but I do know that, after writing reviews for 8 or 9 years, someone at Rotten Tomatoes started adding my reviews to the Tomatometer for me, which was nice of them, although — again — I never asked. However, the first I learned that — at the time — I had written the only negative review of 100 Percent Fresh was when the director, Steve Brill, emailed and tried to cajole me into changing my review so that he could have a 100 percent score for symmetry’s sake, I guess (at least, I believe it was Brill, because he said he was Steven Brill and his email address matched that for Brill in the Sony hacks). I ignored the email, and he emailed again a few days later to ask, again, if I would change my review. To be honest, he was kind of a dick about it, but I don’t change reviews. Moreover, I didn’t even give him a “good” or a “bad” review (as y’all know, we don’t grade our reviews over here, so whoever submitted my review over on Rotten Tomatoes chose to characterize it as “rotten.”)
I’d completely forgot about those emails until just now, and it makes me wonder … how much has Steve Brill personally been behind the completely unwarranted 50 percent RT score for Hubie Halloween? How many people did he mock over email in order to convince them to give his shitty movie a better review? (I am joking, of course: I trust most people in the reviewing community to be completely honest. I still don’t know what to make of their affection for this movie, however, because it is complete garbage.)
Header Image Source: Netflix