Does Adam Sandler play actual characters, or are they all just variations of the same Sandler prototype? It’s a question that critics have been asking themselves for decades, as the former Saturday Night Live star rolls out countless new movie characters – from Bobby Boucher (The Waterboy) to Lenny Feder (the Grown Ups movies) – that seem eerily similar.
This brings us to Adam Sandler’s latest Netflix comedy Hubie Halloween, in which he plays a small-town adult who harbors an unhealthy obsession with the holiday found in the title. It’s all an excuse for Sandler and co-writer Tim Herlihy to apply toilet jokes to a loose Halloween reboot, but The AV Club swears they saw a little Canteen Boy in Sandler’s portrayal. When they asked him about it, Sandler confessed:
Very Canteen-y. A lot of my characters are very goofy and catch a lot of flak for being goofy, and Canteen Boy certainly caught his share of... but the difference is that Canteen Boy had a canteen, and old Hubie has got himself a thermos... That's where it all changed.
Thanks for clearing that up, Sandman. Even in giving that answer, Adam Sandler all but admits that these characters have so many similarities, that the only thing that separates them is the type of drinking device they carry around with them. Otherwise, it’s the same lispy voice, the same put-upon mannerisms, the same barely-concealed anger-management issues. If you’ve seen Billy Madison or Happy Gilmore, you’ve basically seen Hubie Halloween. Adjust your expectations accordingly.
Canteen Boy was a character Adam Sandler created for Saturday Night Live. He was a scout, and he carried a canteen – duh, naturally. But as Sandler continued to play Canteen Boy opposite guest stars like Jeff Goldblum and Alec Baldwin, they began to introduce humor that led some to believe that Canteen Boy was a victim of some predatory scout leaders.
If you go back and watch some of these old Canteen Boy sketches, you even realize that a few of the jokes are recycled for Hubie Halloween. Throughout the movie, Hubie mentions a girl that he’s dating who lives in Canada. He also tells characters not to go looking for her, because she’ll be too hard to find. That line can be found in this Canteen Boy sketch, starring a very skinny John Goodman!
Also, Canteen Boy’s fascination with purified water feels an awful lot like Bobby Boucher from The Waterboy. I think The AV Club is really onto something here. Canteen Boy might be the center of the Adam Sandler universe, the Prime Directive on which all of his characters are based. Did Canteen Boy also bet on the NBA?!
You can catch up on Hubie Halloween as we speak, as it’s now streaming on Netflix. We gave it 2.5 stars in our official review which… isn’t terrible?