Hubie Halloween: It’s Adam Sandler, What Did You Expect? – Netflix Review

I mean, it’s definitely not the worst thing he’s done.

SUMMARY

Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler) is a deli worker and the local loser of Salem, Massachusetts. Every Halloween, Hubie takes it upon himself to be the town monitor to ensure that Salem enjoys a safe and happy Halloween. This, naturally, gets him mocked by everyone from the local rich jerk (Ray Liotta) to the principal (Tim Meadows) and his wife (Maya Rudolph) to the local policeman (Kevin James) to his own junior co-worker (Karar Brar). Only local hot-girl-turned-hot-woman Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen) stands up for him. Unfortunately, this year, an escaped mental patient (Rob Schneider) and a possible wolfman (Steve Buscemi) threaten the celebrations and it’s up to Hubie to stop them.

These kids apparently think this is a fun idea.

END SUMMARY

Did you guys watch Uncut Gems? That movie where Adam Sandler plays a man who keeps having to live on the edge and risk it all because he just can’t be happy otherwise? I think that character was based on Sandler, except that Sandler keeps wanting to test exactly how little effort that he can put forward in order to get a movie to get more watches than the average Best Picture Winner. At least that’s how I explain Jack and Jill and The Ridiculous 6. This movie is not as bad as those, mostly because this movie tries to pull much of its style and humor from Sandler’s older work like The Waterboy, but it suffers from the fact that, at 54 years old, it’s harder to consider Sandler a viable scrappy young outsider. Also, his performance which had previously been the oddball has now devolved into the person who clearly has been avoiding any attempts at maturing. The movie attempts to justify it by saying that Hubie is sweet and honest, but you can be both of those things without being the level of awkward and off-putting that Hubie is. It becomes even more bizarre because the film depicts him as simultaneously socially inept but also hyper competent. I’d say that it’s a form of autism, but since most of the movie’s “humor” is laughing at Hubie’s inherent awkwardness, I’d like to dissociate the performance with any real human conditions.

They use the sheet from the Waterboy for this gag.

The film is a needlessly complicated mess at times as an attempt to conceal the “mystery” of what is actually threatening the town. Hubie also randomly encounters minor sub-plots that require him to pull out his “Swiss Army thermos,” one of the most ridiculous conceits in an Adam Sandler film. It’s a thermos that can do anything the scene requires, from vacuum cleaner to grappling hook, and yet somehow the rest of the movie is pretty grounded in reality. The fact that Hubie built something that defies all practical engineering should have made him wealthy and famous, but everyone chooses to ignore the literal magic bag he holds. The film also suffers from the Sandler trope that the most beautiful woman in the area is already in love with him for no reason.

He also wields a paddle. Don’t ask.

Despite all of these problems, it’s nowhere near the bottom of the barrel for an Adam Sandler production. The cast is filled with talented people who are somehow able to pull a laugh every now and then out of even the most inane lines or scenarios. Sandler himself has several quality moments, mostly when he’s trying to be sincere rather than goofy. The end of the film was actually one of the more surprisingly wholesome ones we’ve seen and it does have a pretty decent message. 

There’s a good Harley Quinn joke.

Overall, I still would recommend watching something else, but if you’re an Adam Sandler fan, this will make your Halloween spooktacular.

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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Netflix Review – The Death of Stalin: A Dark Comedy About a Darker Time

An amazing cast manages to make light of one of the most monstrous periods in world history.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free because it’s history)

It’s 1953, the Cold War is on, and the USSR is run by Joseph Stalin (Adrian McLoughlin). Everyone is afraid for their lives, and for good reason, as Stalin’s Interior Ministry Head Lavrentiy Beria (Simon Russell Beale) constantly has hundreds or thousands of people abducted or brutally executed for crimes both real and imagined. When Stalin suddenly passes away from a stroke, Beria starts to scheme to seize control, as does Nikita Khruschev (Steve Buscemi). They both try to gain support from the various members of the Council of Ministers, including the incompetent Georgy Malenkov (Jeffrey Tambor) and the Party loyalist Vyacheslav Molotov (Michael Palin), the head of the military Georgy Zhukov (Jason Isaacs), as well as Stalin’s children Vasily (Rupert Friend) and Svetlana (Andrea Riseborough). If you’ve paid attention in history class, you can probably guess who won. If you didn’t, then this movie counts towards college credit.*

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He’s not delayin’, he’s just Stalin.

END SUMMARY

Comedy is tragedy plus time, supposedly. This film mostly relies on the theory that a massive tragedy, with enough time, will inherently become somewhat funny. Surprisingly, it actually seems to work. The movie doesn’t have traditional jokes or gags, instead just relying on the absurd performances of the cast and the crazy (and probably real) things that the characters do in the name of trying to fill the power vacuum left by Stalin. Part of why it works is that life in the USSR was kind of inherently insane, with everyone doing literally everything that Stalin or his close allies want, regardless of the feasibility. One (true) thing depicted during the film, for example, was the time that Stalin asked for a recording of a concert which had not been recorded, leading to a replaying of the concert.

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I mean, it’s also pretty funny when monsters die. 

The performances are pretty much all amazing, particularly at managing to make their characters seem funnier, and therefore less harmful, than their real-life counterparts. The exception is Beale’s Beria, who is too cruel and threatening to ever seem particularly funny. However, some of the scenes that involve his police force, the NKVD, manage to be darkly comical in a slapstick sort of way. The other characters are all pretty funny if only for their constant disconnects from reality that comes from living in a dictatorship. It helps that at no point during the movie does anyone attempt to use any accent other than their own, regardless of the fact that they’re playing Soviet leaders. Having Steve Buscemi say things like “I’m the peacemaker and I’ll f*ck over anyone who gets in my way” works so much better with his natural Brooklyn accent than a phony Russian one. 

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Also they have funny hats. 

Honestly, if you didn’t see this movie while it was in theaters, you should really check it out now that it’s on Netflix. I think it’s both funny and perpetually relevant. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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*Only at DeVry.

34) Pine Barrens (The Sopranos)

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Even the Poster looks like it gave up.

In 1997, National Lampoon released a movie called The Don’s Analyst, which was about what it would be like if a mob boss had to attend psychotherapy. Never mind the stupid title, it was a mediocre-at-best comedy. However, supposedly it was ripped off of a script written in 1995 by longtime TV producer David Chase, who wanted to make a movie about a Mob Boss who goes into therapy with his mother. Eventually, they decided to make it a TV series instead. The big difference was that it wasn’t a comedy. Sure, there were funny moments in the show, especially in this episode, but it wasn’t ever played strictly for laughs. It was a character-driven drama, despite the fact that its premise was immediately assumed to be a joke by others. To tell you how well it worked in comparison, nobody remembers The Don’s Analyst, while seasons of The Sopranos managed to get 12 million people to watch.

SopranosComposite
The Two Tonys

Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) is a capo, and eventually the boss, of the DiMeo crime family. At the beginning of the series, he suffers an anxiety attack. He then starts therapy with Dr. Jennifer Melfi (Lorraine Bracco). Throughout the series, they maintain a professional, and sometimes closer, relationship, despite the fact that while Dr. Melfi is humane and dedicated to rationality, Tony tends to have people killed, and his emotions vary wildly throughout different sessions for reasons that sometimes even confuse the audience. Their sessions usually focus on how Tony balances his relationships with his family and his relationships with “the family.”

The structure of the show is often described as being like a novel, with each episode forming another chapter feeding in to the overall arc of the season, and, ultimately, the show. However, there is a notable exception to that. An episode that is almost entirely independent of the larger arc. That episode, directed by none other than Steve Buscemi, is “Pine Barrens.”

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Mr. Pink?

SUMMARY

One thing that makes this episode different is that by far the most memorable plot was filled not by Tony or his family, but by two of Tony’s crew, Christopher and Paulie (Michael Imperioli and Tony Sirico). The two characters have constantly clashed up until this point, with Christopher resenting Paulie because Paulie still outranks Chris even after Chris gets becomes a made man (if you don’t know that term, please watch Goodfellas). So, when the two of them get sent by Tony to do a routine collection from a Russian named Valery, the bad mood between them leads Chris to mock Valery until eventually a fight breaks out and Valery ends up on the floor with what appears to be a cracked windpipe. The two decide that, having already botched the collection, they should just tie Valery up, roll him in a carpet, drive him out to Pine Barrens, New Jersey, and dump him. In the middle of Winter. Because mobsters always have creative solutions.

PineBarrens.jpg
Pictured: “Outside of the box” thinking.

After driving out to Jersey, the two open the trunk to find that Valery has not only survived his injury, but has already freed himself. The two give him a shovel to dig his own grave, but Valery escapes, despite being shot in the head. Valery then manages to completely disappear in the snow, giving the two the slip, while the audience learns that Valery is actually former Soviet Special Forces. Paulie and Chris then get lost in the woods and end up staying in an abandoned van to avoid freezing to death. After a confrontation in the van, the two finally make peace.

SopranosVan

Tony finally comes out to save them as they wander through the wilderness, but they find that Valery has not only survived a night out in the snow, he stole Paulie’s car and escaped. The group gives up on finding Valery and heads home. Valery’s fate is left unrevealed, and the showrunners refuse to say any more about it, or his seeming immortality.

The B-plot of Tony dealing with a mistress who is even more emotionally disturbed than him is also great, and apparently involved Steve Buscemi having to throw a steak at James Gandolfini.

END SUMMARY

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Pictured: Spetsnaz Survival Trainer

What makes this episode great, aside from the interesting plot point of an invincible Russian mobster completely defeating two mobsters, is that the fight between Paulie and Chris is completely understandable. Paulie sees Chris coming up in the ranks, and is threatened, even telling Chris he’s going to “pull rank on him,” to which Chris says the great line “F**k you, Paulie. Captain or no captain, right now, we’re just two a**holes lost in the woods.” Conversely, Chris sees Paulie as trying to punish him for being ambitious. Paulie even ends up telling Chris not to leave him behind. It’s every inter-generational fight expressed it in a superb and darkly comic way. In a show famous for its writing, the dialogue rarely, if ever, reached this level again.

PREVIOUS – 35: Alfred Hitchcock Presents

NEXT – 33: The Bob Newhart Show

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews

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