Hubie Dubois (Adam Sandler, “Big Daddy”) is a hero. Not just in his role as Halloween guardian, protecting the town of Salem, Mass. on its most celebrated day of the year, but moreover in his unrivaled selflessness. Despite decades of ridicule, the target of the town’s relentless bullying and torment, Hubie looks past the mistreatment to see his persecutors as real people. And Hubie cares for his community, especially on Halloween.
Salem has a supernatural history, dating back to colonial witches and witch-hunts. Accordingly, Halloween is a big deal there. Hubie is a Salem native, born and raised. He lives with his mother, who has the fashion-sense of a long-haul trucker, and works at the supermarket deli counter. He is never seen without his thermos, a clandestine multi-tool of epic proportions (oh, and it holds soup too). And he’s been head-over-heels for Violet Valentine (Julie Bowen, “Happy Gilmore”) since the second grade.
The thermos and his living arrangements may have given it away, but Salem has long seen Hubie as a loser. While Violet Valentine won a trifecta of senior year superlatives regarding her beauty, Hubie was “most likely to marry his pillow.” Hubie’s speech impediment and general naïvete certainly doesn’t help his image. And boy is Salem ruthless.
Hubie’s preferred method of transportation is bicycle, and he must deftly dodge projectiles hurled by passersby as he rides. From flaming bags of poo, to machetes, to television sets, Salem’s hatred for Hubie is borderline murderous. But Hubie looks past it all. And when Halloween turns sour, Hubie’s there to help.
It’s a perfect storm, really: There’s a psycho on the loose, a werewolf’s just moved into town and someone is kidnapping Hubie’s bullies! It’s worth mentioning that as a result of life-long torment, Hubie scares easily. Very easily. But even this doesn’t stop him. His courage in the face of danger is formidable. Suffice it to say, Hubie saves the day.
Adam Sandler rarely makes me laugh. I have long been devoutly anti-Sandler, until now. Hubie’s antics and the star studded comedic cast had me thoroughly entertained. Watching Steve Buscemi (“The Death of Stalin”) get his chin scratched like a puppy is unsettlingly hilarious, and Kamala Harris’s — I mean, Maya Rudolph’s (“Bridesmaids”) — dry wit was a treat. Most of all, Sandler won me over with his message of compassion, a message that can’t be overstated in 2020.
Hubie’s compassion is unconditional. He cares for the community that torments him, because he knows that everyone is deserving of care. Asking for nothing in return, Hubie gives and gives. He faces his fears and puts himself in harm’s way so that every Salem citizen wakes up safe and secure on November 1.
This year has been awful. It has been a long year of death and solitude, and we aren’t done yet. The divisive surprises of election season are surely far from over, and Americans continue to die at staggering rates from COVID-19. Of course, even Hubie couldn’t fix 2020. There are some things that his thermos cannot do, and I imagine vaccination is out of the question. But Hubie teaches each and every one of us an important lesson: be compassionate.
In 2020, compassion is taking care of the sick. It is reaching out to the lonely. It is putting oneself second, saying “no” to that packed party because you don’t want to be the next link in a chain of cases that kills an elderly community-member or high-risk classmate. It is educating oneself about systemic inequity. It is making one’s voice heard at the ballot box. Hubie Dubois should be an example to us all, of fulfilling civic responsibility at all costs, and doing so with a full heart and honest smile.
Daily Arts Writer Ross London can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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