I grew up reading the “Goosebumps” books. They were fun, creepy, and well written. The idea of a “Goosebumps” movie had me intrigued and worried because this isn’t an exact adaptation of one specific book, which was fine because they did those very well with the television show. However, every creature from every book is in this movie and I was worried it was going to be a cheesy kids flick with Marvel syndrome of putting too many characters into one movie.
What “Goosebumps” ends up being was completely unexpected. This is one of the best times I have had at the movies all year. I had a smile on my face the whole movie. It is funny, smart, and sweet and is perfect for people of all ages.
When Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (Amy Ryan) move from New York and to the small town of Madison, Delaware, Zach befriends his female neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush), who’s father, who is later revealed to be “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stein (Jack Black), is very mysterious and crotchety, and keeps Hannah essentially trapped in the house. One night, after a failed attempt to help an unharmed Hannah from her father’s doing, Zach and his new friend Champ (Ryan Lee) open up one of the “Goosebumps” manuscripts in the house and unleash a monster into the town. While trying to capture the monster, another book opens up and out comes the creepy ventriloquist doll Slappy (voiced by Jack Black). Slappy, unhappy that Stein has kept him in a book for so many years, releases all the monsters from all of Stein’s books and causes chaos on the town. Now it is up to Zach, Hannah, Stein, and Champ, along with a few others, to stop the monsters reign of terror.
I liked all the actors and characters in this movie. Jack Black looks nothing like the real R.L. Stein, but his interpretation is fun. His accent runs in and out and some points he’s just Jack Black, but I thought he was good. He also gave Slappy a really creepy voice that sounded nothing like Black’s real voice, which I dug. Minnette and Rush have really good chemistry together and make for a compelling on-screen couple. Lee is a comedic scene stealer. He’s at times obnoxious, but most of his jokes land and he plays the desperate, “I’m cool but I’m not really cool” high school friend to perfection. What’s best is that everyone in the movies looks like they are having a ball, which is always fun to see.
What’s best about this movie was the story. Though not based on any specific “Goosebumps” book, this has all the makings of how they would play out, minus all the hilarity. I don’t remember “Goosebumps” being laugh out loud funny. Regardless, the story is excellent. One scene, Stein says, “Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts. The beginning. The middle. And the twist.” This movie has all of that, including a twist that isn’t mind-blowing, but one I did not see coming that really heightened the stakes of the movie and the characters. They also did a good job of just cameoing all the monsters instead of having each one have a line or a story. Slappy, who is by far the creepiest “Goosebumps” character, is the ring leader and we understand him and his plan. It is cool to see all the other monsters and I was fully alright with just seeing them and not getting each one’s story. This is a perfect example of that old saying, “less is more.”
I absolutely loved “Goosebumps”. It is a funny, enjoyable adventure ride filled with good, rounded characters and classic monsters. It is a great film for both kids and adults and for those who loved the books and those who have never read one in their life.
MY RATING – ***.5/****
Image courtesy of YouTube via MovieClips