Movie Name: Goosebumps
Studio: Sony Pictures Animation
Release Date(s): June 24, 2015 (CineEurope)/October 16, 2015 (US)
MPAA Rating: PG
Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (Amy Ryan) have just moved to Madison, Delaware from New York City when Gale takes a new job at the school. When Zach meets the neighbor girl Hannah (Odeya Rush), he also meets her mysterious (and angry) father (Jack Black). Worrying that she’s being abused, Zach and his friend Champ (Ryan Lee) break in to the house…but unleash something more. Zach’s neighbor is R.L. Stine, the author of Goosebumps, and Stine’s creations are about to wreak havoc on the town of Madison!
Directed by Rob Letterman, Goosebumps is a family horror-comedy. The movie utilizes characters and situations from the long-running series of young-adult horror novels by R.L. Stine which were first published in 1992. The movie had a strong showing at the box office and was relatively well received.
I was too old for Goosebumps, and it kind of made me mad. All through childhood, it was hard to find horror books as a kid. I read books on movie monsters and books like Bunnicula, but horror for kids was always hard (leading me to take up reading “adult” books like Stephen King a lot earlier than most). Goosebumps the movie is the type of movie I would have loved as a kid, and it was pretty fun.
The movie is rather cleverly written. The problem with Goosebumps is that there is hundreds of books and tons of episodes of the much loved TV series. If the writers had picked one book to focus on, it could have been off putting to some who might have hated said book or episode. The flipside of that is that by incorporating too many books, the writers could have made it too jumbled. Writing a story involving the actual books and R.L. Stine was a smart move to create a movie that appeals to a lot.
Jack Black is a love-him-or-hate him actor for many. I like Jack Black, but this version of Black probably has more appeal than most of his films since he isn’t necessarily playing the same character he always plays. Black is a little more controlled but still has that bad attitude that made him popular. The three lead kids played by Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee aren’t bad, but they also feel like they have room to grow as actors. I wish that the movie had a bigger role for Amy Ryan and real Goosebumps author R.L. Stine does have a cameo playing “Mr. Black”.
The movie feels a lot like a fun ’80s movie with more modern effects. The whole tone of the movie is very Goonies or Monster Squad and despite being for kids does have some genuine scares (much like the original series). I think it is good for kids to have scares, and being a family picture, adults can enjoy it too.
Goosebumps was a surprisingly fun film and I did end up enjoying it. It wasn’t revolutionary or amazing, but I would have liked it as a kid. The success of the film and the fact that the story is essentially rather open ended leaves room for sequels and a new movie is in the works…let’s hope the writing stays strong.