Adam Sandler doesn’t have many new tricks up his sleeve with his latest Netflix “treat” in Hubie Halloween. Here he employs his Waterboy voice as a self professed holiday monitor in his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts. Hubie is a constantly bullied and goodhearted mama’s boy (also Waterboy shades) who is easily scared and easily grates on one’s nerves within moments. This is the typical streaming mediocrity we have come to expect from its star, but it’s slightly more of a letdown after the career best work we just saw from him in Uncut Gems.
Collaborating with his frequent director Steven Brill, Hubie is squarely aimed at teens and Sandler diehards. There’s familiar faces galore and many of their characters are marked not by funny dialogue, but “funny” appearances. Kevin James (the town law enforcement) has funny facial hair! Tim Meadows has funny hair! Steve Buscemi has funny arm hair because he might be a werewolf! June Squibb (as his dear mama) wears funny t-shirts! Shaquille O’Neal has a funny voice in a bit that pays homage to John Carpenter’s The Fog (one of the few that I actually chuckled at).
As for plot, Sandler’s latest weird title character has to deal with an overstuffed amount of it. There’s his romantic subplot with his Happy Gilmore love interest Julie Bowen. We have a recently escaped patient from a mental institution. There are multiple tormentors of Hubie who get plenty of screen time, including Ray Liotta and Michael Chiklis. And it all happens on one long (and 102 minutes is too long here) Halloween day and night where Hubie’s constant sidekick is an all purpose thermos which serves soup, is a megaphone, and serves every other function imaginable.
Hubie Halloween isn’t awful (some other Sandler Netflix experiences are) as much as totally disposable. It’s as childish as the central character. Sometimes that works for this comedic performer with the right screenplay. This one, with a smattering of decent jokes, is mostly stuck in its own unfocused fog.
The main issue here is a familiar one. Sandler is either playing someone obnoxious or a buffoon. It’s the latter in this case and too often this latest buffoon just isn’t that funny. Even with all that supposedly hilarious hair everywhere.
Melissa McCarthy is back in theaters after a two-year absence when Life of the Party debuts next weekend. The comedy marks her third collaboration with her husband/director Ben Falcone after 2014’s Tammy and 2016’s The Boss. It’s her first appearance onscreen since the Ghostbusters reboot in the summer of 2016. The pic casts her as a divorced mom who goes back to college and ends up in the same class as her daughter. Costars include Molly Gordon, Gillian Jacobs, Maya Rudolph, Jacki Weaver, Julie Bowen, Matt Walsh, and Stephen Root.
The previous efforts of McCarthy with Falcone has yielded results in the low 20s at the box office. Tammy opened to $21 million with an eventual gross of $84 million. Two years later, The Boss premiered with $23 million and $63 million overall. It certainly is possible that Life could start out in the same range, but I could also see this falling just a tad lower.
I’ll project Life of the Party doesn’t quite reach $20 million, which should easily be enough for it to place second to the third weekend of Avengers: Infinity War.
Life of the Party opening weekend prediction: $19.4 million
Walt Disney Studios brings their animated sequel Planes: Fire & Rescue to theaters this Friday and they are hoping to find more success than other animated follow-ups in 2014. This spring, 20th Century Fox saw lackluster results with Rio 2, which grossed $129 million (less than the $143M of its 2011 predecessor). And then there’s How to Train Your Dragon 2 which has taken in a disappointing $147 million, far less than the $217M of its 2010 original.
The Planes sequel may have better luck for a couple of reasons. First, the expectations aren’t nearly as high. Featuring the voices of Dane Cook, Julie Bowen, Ed Harris, and many others – Fire & Rescue isn’t expected to greatly outdo the $90 million haul of its original, which came out last summer. That factor – that the predecessor came out less than a year ago – should keep it fresh in family audience’s minds. On the other hand, the first Rio and Dragon pictures had come out three and four years prior.
Planes took in $22 million last August on its way to that $90M gross. #2 may manage to take in a bit more than that and I figure it’ll pretty much take in what its predecessor did when all is said and done.
Planes: Fire & Rescue opening weekend prediction: $25.4 million