Monday, October 19, 2015

Movie Review: "Goosebumps"

With over 400 million books sold, R.L. Stine's Goosebumps books are among some of the most popular books of all-time.  They are the kind of bump in the night campfire stories that keep any kid up late with images of ghouls and talking ventriloquist dummies flashing across their minds.  After a successful TV series in the Nineties, Goosebumps now returns to an even bigger screen in the form of a large scale Hollywood movie starring Jack Black as a fictionalized version of Stine.

Part comedy, part kid friendly horror, and even part Eighties Spielberg, Goosebumps is a great time at the movies this Halloween season.  When Zach (Dylan Minnette) moves to small town Delaware with his single mom, things get weird fast.  Just like a good Goosebumps story, it doesn't take long for Zach to find that something is off with their new next door neighbors.  The Dad (Jack Black) is very over-protective of his daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush), who Zach has a bit of a crush on.  Of course, things get even more bizarre when it is revealed that Hannah's Dad is actually R.L. Stine, who actually imagined every monster he ever created into being, and had to trap them inside the pages of his Goosebumps manuscripts to keep them from wreaking havoc.  Of course, all of the manuscripts get opened when Slappy, the talking ventriloquist dummy with a Napoleonic complex, gets loose from his book and seeks revenge on Stine for keeping him imprisoned all these long years.

Goosebumps is the kind of fun, family entertainment that isn't made much anymore.  It's a relatively PG-affair, with a key eye toward kids from about 10 up.  The movie is funny, never raunchy, and actually tells a fairly sweet story about having to learn to let go of things in order to move on in life.  Of course, there are some moments that might be a little scary for a kid, but the filmmakers do a great job of diffusing anything that might traumatize a child with laugh out loud humor.  The script is chock full of wit, and when you couple that with the great cast of young actors and their impeccable chemistry and comedic timing, you get a movie that is fun instead of nightmarish, plus Jack Black is in prime scenery chewing form as Stine (just don't compare him to Stephen King).  While the movie occasionally barrels through without ever giving our heroes much downtime to reveal more information about their characters, the final act of the movie works because of the likability of the cast and some clever twists that give the movie an added emotional punch.

I give Goosebumps an 8 out of 10!

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