Directed by Steven Brill
Starring: Adam Sandler, Julie Bowen, Kevin James, Maya Rudolph, Tim Meadows, Ray Liotta, Steve Buscemi
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Rating: PG-13 (Crude and suggestive content, language and brief teen partying)
Last week, we saw Hocus Pocus which takes place in Salem, Massachusetts. This film is set there as well. Unfortunately this week the options were again very limited for movie theaters. An option was called The War with Grandpa and in normal times I would have loved nothing more than to take my grandpa to see it. Instead I was able to watch this film over the weekend and anyone who knows me, knows I’ve ALWAYS been a big Adam Sandler fan. Sandler’s new films have been hit or miss (Uncut Gems was excellent) but if Happy Gilmore, Big Daddy, Billy Madison, 50 First Dates etc. is on I will always sit down and watch it. The latest Sandler venture takes place with a Halloween theme. Given that we are in October this film fits perfect into our reviews! My go-to movie aficionado and I sat down to watch this over the weekend. Popcorn in hand (no butter for her.) I wondered if this would be the classic Sandman or one of his more recent duds.
Onto the film.
Immediately you’ll notice the music which puts you in a mood for a horror film. But this is Adam Sandler? An Adam Sandler scary movie…? The camera slowly pans onto Westford State Mental Institution a maximum security hospital. We notice a cart trolling down a hallway and IMMEDIATELY we get a cameo from a classic character and realize someone has escaped. “PSYCHO ON THE LOOSE!” We then cut to an overhead shot of Salem with “Monster Mash” playing in the background. Here we meet our reluctant hero, Hubie Dubois (Sandler) is riding his bike through the streets talking to residents. It’s clear the town hates him. Eggs are being thrown, which he catches into is Macgyver-esque thermos. We then meet Dubois’ crush Violet Valentine (Bowen.) Fans will remember the two paired up during the classic Happy Gilmore. She’s as wonderful as ever in this one. In a love-induced trance Dubois wrecks his bike and goes flying into the car. The slap-stick humor is rampant in this film. Some of the jokes work, and some fall flat. Dubois works at a supermarket and continues to be made fun of by coworkers and customers. This is a growing trend for Dubois.
Rumors begin to swirl around town that a convict named Ritchie Hartman has escaped the mental institution. The game is afoot. Without delving too much more into the plot. Dubois starts to witnesses disappearances of town residents. Dubois LOVES Halloween and this town and wants to protect both. Going to the Sgt. Steve Downey (James) is no help, as it
seems in years past there is ALWAYS something to report. It’s up to Hubie Dubois to solve the mystery.
This is where the film takes off. We get a mix of nostalgic set pieces. There’s a scene at the drive-in and some of my favorite nights have been going to the old drive-in in Lucasville or just recently in Columbus. We get the slapstick humor, and deadpan jokes to balance it out. What I enjoyed the most were the cameos from the go-to Sandler crew. Carey and I discussed who we thought the killer was. Not as far a member of the town, but which former SNL cast member or big celebrity would it be? For the record, I was right.
Was this film cheesy? Of course. It’s made for adults, and young adults. I wouldn’t necessarily watch it with young kids but the humor isn’t too crude. My BIG complaint, as someone who already need the volume up too high, was Sandler’s “accent.” I’m not sure what he’s trying to do, but it’s hard to understand at times. I guess if I had to describe it, it would be The Waterboy, if he was French? It’s odd. I get that he’s trying to be the town goofball but the film would have played better if he talked normal. Then again, maybe it wouldn’t be as believable that he annoys everyone if he talked like we see him normally. Regardless this one tidbit doesn’t ruin the film. Give this one a watch, especially with some apple cider and too much popcorn. Please support local business, especially now. 3 stars out of 5
This writer’s opinion is their own and not the opinion of this newspaper