FRIDAY NIGHT MOVIE REVIEW: Tonight I saw the latest “Goosebumps” film, which stars Jack Black (Nacho Libre, School of Rock), Dylan Minnette (Prisoners, Let Me In), Odeya Rush (The Giver, The Odd Life of Timothy Green), Ryan Lee (Super 8, This Is 40), Amy Ryan (Birdman: Or [The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance], Gone Baby Gone), and Jillian Bell (Bridesmaids, 22 Jump Street). It is directed by Robert Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Gulliver’s Travels ), the screenplay is written by Daren Lemke (Jack the Giant Slayer, Shrek Forever After), and the story is co-written by Scott Alexander (Man on the Moon, 1408) and Larry Karaszewski (Agent Cody Banks, Big Eyes). It is based on the book series created by R.L. Stein. Moving into a new town is tough, especially for Zach (Minnette). When he transfers to a small town, Zach feels like nothing exciting will happen. That is until he finds out that his next door neighbor is R.L. Stein (Black). Feeling as though something dangerous has happened inside Stein’s house, Zach takes action and breaks in, only to discover the many “Goosebumps” manuscripts that litter his library. Once he opens one, it sends him and his two newly found friends on an adventure full of all the creepy and scary monsters that made the “Goosebumps” books popular.
I’m sure everyone is expecting me to go into a long back story of “Goosebumps” and how they were a part of my childhood, since apparently everyone who reviews this film does that. Well, you are right…sort of. Although all of the cool kids read the “Goosebumps” books in elementary school, I was never the type of child that would read for fun. Sure, I read all of the time, but novels were never my cup of tea. I did, however, watch some of the show. I didn’t watch it during its original airing since I was not alive during that time (I know, I am young), but I did watch them on re-runs or tapes, and boy were they scary! At least to my eight-year-old self. Something about the cheap quality of the series (it came from the mid-90’s) gave a horrifying presence that worked fantastically for me. I don’t remember much of it though, only a few episodes here and there. My reaction to the series is something I will never forget nonetheless, as every episode provided an original, creepy story that gave way for a dark twist at the end. Ever since I heard that this film was shooting, I was hoping for it to have the same ambiance that the show had. Did it? No. In fact, this movie took a completely different approach. Instead of it being scary, it was a punchy, action-packed, CGI-bloated, quick-pace story that started and then ended in the blink of an eye. Not at all did I get goosebumps, like I should have in the first place. But, I understand. These are different times. I don’t even know of anybody who reads “Goosebumps” anymore. Kids do not want to get scared, and Sony recognized this, deciding to inject a more humorous formula into a mixture that feels too much like any other kid-friendly movie nowadays. But, I will admit, I found this film to be entertaining. Jack Black is always great in whatever role he is in and I found him to be funny in this. Not laugh-out-loud hilarious, but funny enough. Ryan Lee also proved himself to be funny, as I laughed at some of the things he did. All of the acting was good for a comedy (why is this a comedy?) and I have no severe complaints on performances. The storyline itself is pretty basic, with the only objective being to run around in R.L. Stein land and look at all of the many monsters that come out of his books. It works most of the time, mainly when we are seeing some action scenes and funny banter between Jack Black and the kids. Anything else can be a throwaway, including the little side-story of Zach’s mom (Ryan) and the gym coach. The special effects that go along with this release are pretty good overall. What really diminishes the scare-factor though would be how all the monsters look cartoonish, and some of the models can come off rough-looking, the one monster in particular being the werewolf. I don’t know who designed the CGI for it, but it looked awful. It was almost Sci-Fy channel quality, and you know you’ve hit rock-bottom when it gets to that point. These creatures are nice to watch, especially if you are a “Goosebumps” fan, but none of them really get a deep role. All of them just get thrown in to skid around and chase after kids. Slappy, the main villain of this film, just sat around and got some screen-time. Not as much as the Yeti though. One thing I must say that I hated in this picture was how Slappy was voiced by Jack Black. Jack Black is a great actor, I enjoy all of his performances, but his voicing of Slappy sounded too much like himself. It was basically a Jack Black doll. This was specifically cringing when R.L. Stein, portrayed by Black, would talk to Slappy and they sounded the same. Besides Slappy and all of the other issues that I discussed, I do not have much more to talk about. It was a fun time to be had, and I am sure others will feel the same. I just wish that it took a more horrifying direction that would send chills down people’s spines. Maybe it would have a more inventive story that way. FINAL SCORE: 76%= Juicy Popcorn
Here is the trailer: