Goosebumps Review: 90’s Nostalgia Galore

          It’s about dang time someone did a Goosebumps movie. Based off the extraordinary popular children’s book series, this is a film that should have...


        It’s about dang time someone did a Goosebumps movie. Based off the extraordinary popular children’s book series, this is a film that should have been made years ago. Many younger horror fans got their start with the twists, monsters, and TV-Y7 hi jinks of R.L. Stine’s most popular book series and it’s not hard to see why. These novels offered a milder alternative to kids who liked being lightly frightened, not scared senseless.
       Following in that spirit comes theGoosebumps movie, not an adaptation of any one book, but a meta-tale featuring Stine fighting off his most famous creations. It’s an ingenious idea, solidified with a strong cast of teenage actors and the perfect casting of Jack Black as R.L. Stine. Topping it off with some solid effects, a good use of the license, and enough humor to keep the adults entertained, what you have here is a real winner.
      Goosebumps starts out with a premise that could have been pulled straight from the books; following the death of his father, Zach and his mother move to the rural town of Madison, Delaware, to be closer to family. The change of scenery starts out strong, with Zach making a new best friend in the buck toothed ladies’ man Champ (more commonly known as Chump) and meeting his beautiful next door neighbor Hannah.
      Unfortunately Hannah’s crazy father, dubbed “Mr. Shivers” doesn’t want Zach anywhere near his daughter, and for good reason. Mr. Shivers is actually prolific children’s author R.L. Stine, and all the monsters from his books are real, and after Zach accidentally releases the lot of them, it’s up to him, Stine, Hannah, and Champ to save Madison from an army of evil.
       Much of the fun of Goosebumps came from seeing my favorite creatures from the books come to life. Stine’s portfolio is extremely diverse, and there’s everything from zombies, to clowns, to giant praying mantises on display. Still, there are a couple of noticeably missing monsters that I would have loved to see. The villains that get the most screen time end up being the most conventional, which is a bit of a shame considering Stine has a book starring a vampire poodle. For example, the werewolf from Fever Swamp is featured in an extended sequence, and while I like werewolves, wouldn’t it have been cooler to see a more original creation like, say, Cuddles the giant hamster from Monster Blood?
       Surprisingly though, with all the ghouls and ghosts flying around, it’s the human characters who make the most impact. Everyone makes an impact, and while Jack Black’s Stine does steal the show, it’s not to the detriment of anyone else. Zach is just a genuinely likable kid. He doesn’t get a ton of development, but that’s kind of the point. None of the Goosebumps books were exactly well known for their in-depth characterization. The same goes for Hannah, who serves as the likable if bland love interest, and Champ, the admit-ably pretty freaking hilarious comic relief.
        Casting Jack Black as Stine really was a stroke of demented genius. More than his fellow cast, Stine grows as a character. Originally he’s a bit of a shut-in curmudgeon (the various demons and monsters locked in his house give him a pretty good excuse), but as the film goes on the old author softens. More than anything though, I’m just extremely happy to see Jack Black back to being Jack Black. Goosebumps is his first starring role since 2011’s Bernie, and seeing the big guy back on camera made me realize how much I had missed him.
        In the end, this is a heck of a solid family film, one that adults and kids can really both really enjoy. For anyone who’s ever been a fan of the books, it’s a must see. For the less literary among us though, Goosebumps still comes with a big recommendation.

4-Knives out of 5

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