Just a year after he earned unanimous critical acclaim with his against-type performance in the harrowing drama "Uncut Gems" (Josh and Benny Safdie, 2019), Adam Sandler is again back with his usual gang of comic actors in his usual comfort zone genre -- the slapstick comedy.
Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler) was a dim-witted middle-aged man who lived with his sweet mother (June Squibb). He was frequently the butt of some cruel jokes and pranks by most of his neighbors, like Mr. Landolfa (Ray Liotta), Mr. and Mrs. Hennessy (Tim Meadows and Maya Rudolph) and his co-worker at the deli, Mark Mundi (Karan Brar). However, his non-confrontational nature made him just take it all in stride.
His one true love was his high school batch '84 classmate, Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen). She had once married another classmate, now local police officer Sgt. Steve Downey (Kevin James). They had one son Tommy (Noah Scnapp), who is now a freshman in high school and had a crush on a senior Megan (Paris Berelc). After their divorce, she adopted two more daughters Cookie and Danielle (Adam's real-life daughters, Sunny and Sadie Sandler).
Despite being a major scaredy-cat, Hubie loved Halloween. He proclaimed himself Salem's Halloween monitor and would patrol his neighborhood to ensure that everyone is safe. This year, Hubie was especially wary because of the news of an escaped convicted murderer Richie Hartman (Rob Schneider). There was also a suspicious new neighbor Walter Lambert (Steve Buscemi) who might be a werewolf.
This is another one of those Adam Sandler films where he was playing a person demeaned by others because of his looks and odd behavior. However, he invariably had a heart of gold, and would eventually save the day and get the girl at the end. The formula is very familiar but it had worked for Sandler so many times before, since his early "Billy Madison" and "Happy Gilmore" days, so he decided to revisit this theme one more time.
The comedy can feel old and forced in several scenes. Sandler clenched his mouth to make a constipated face and conjured an unnatural vocal inflection which can get annoying.There was a running gag of people hurling various objects at him as he rode along the streets on his bicycle, which got old fast. He also had silly "shock" reactions to the various pranks people bully him with, which felt over-the-top fake. He also had a trusty "Swiss army knife" thermos, which was his equivalent of Batman's utility belt, which was corny.
For me, the funniest moment was when they revealed who the person behind the velvety voice of radio DJ Aurora was. It was good to see Julie Bowen again, who also played Sandler's love interest (with similar initials VV) in "Happy Gilmore" (1996). The most touching scenes were those mother-and-son scenes between Sandler and 90-year old actress June Squibb, who gamely wore cringy gag t-shirts. For all his foolishness, Sandler also knew how to tug on your heartstrings.