To be honest, everything I saw leading up to me actually watching ‘Goosebumps’ looked stupid. The movie didn’t resemble the ‘Goosebumps’ material I was familiar with from my childhood. So I was instantly turned off by it and labeled it as a complete joke before I even saw it. After watching the movie though, I might of slightly overreacted…just slightly.
When Zach (Dylan Minnette) moves to a new (small) town with his mom, he isn’t really excited about it but his mood changes a little when he meets his neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush). One night, when he feels that she is in danger, Zach breaks in her house to try and “save her” but instead he finds out that Hannah’s father is, famous ‘Goosebumps’ author, R.L. Stine (Jack Black) and accidentally lets the monsters from his books loose. It is then up to Stine, Zach and Hannah to figure out how to get those monsters back in their books where they belong.
Yeah, I Like That
‘Goosebumps’ was a complete surprise to me. I’m not saying I loved the movie because I didn’t, by any means. It just wasn’t awful like I predicted it would be. The main reason for that is because it was funny and it’s not funny in the typical “humor used in kids movies” type of way. It has humor that can be enjoyed by all ages. The movie actually starts out immediately throwing jokes out left and right. Some were hits and some were misses but you have to give the movie credit for at least trying to be universally funny. Jillian Bell contributed to some of those “hits” at the beginning and the few other times she was sprinkled in the movie but unfortunately her screen time wasn’t as long as it should have been. My first introduction to Bell came in ’22 Jump Street’ and she was hilarious in that so I’m looking forward to seeing her in whatever else she appears in. Amanda Lund and Timothy Simons also saw a brief amount of screen time but they also brought plenty of laughs, as two police officers, during that time. I would liked to have seen them pop up in the movie more as well but hey, what can you do. One person who saw plenty of screen time and ultimately stole the show was Ryan Lee. He plays Champ, Zach’s new “best friend”, and every time he showed up or said something, I just found myself giggling except for when he said the quote of the movie to describe his scared personality: “I remember being four on a swing and saying this is how it ends.” I didn’t giggle at that, I let out a full blown grown man laugh like I was at a Kevin Hart show…which I actually was at recently but that’s besides the point.
This 2015 version of ‘Goosebumps’ doesn’t resemble the past ‘Goosebumps’ I’m familiar with (I’ll touch on that a little later) but it did try to in some areas. One that I enjoyed was an interesting twist that involves one of the main cast members. The ‘Goosebumps’ books always came with a twist so it was nice to see the movie keep that tradition up. Plus, I’m just a sucker for a decent twist in movies. Now, quickly, I want to touch on Mr. Black. In a lot of his movies, he usually has this larger-than-life personality that can be hit or miss depending on the material that is surrounding him. With this movie, I was afraid his over-the-top antics would contribute to this movie being ridiculous and awful because the style of this movie wouldn’t be able to benefit from it, in the eyes of a person like me. But I have to say that even though Black’s noticeable personality was present, it wasn’t as strong as I expected which made it not standout as much. A lot of the time, he was overshadowed by his other castmates and I think that actually benefited the movie. Hey, sometimes falling back and letting other people shine is better for you and the whole body of work. But to end this section off, I just want to reiterate that ‘Goosebumps’ is wholesome entertainment and that REALLY surprised me.
Yeah, I Didn’t Like That
Yes, I’ve stated that ‘Goosebumps’ surprised me BUT it still doesn’t come close to having the feel of the books or the TV show. I was a big fan of the TV show. My family used to record a lot of the episodes on VHS because we loved to watch them over and over again. So my childhood felt a little messed with while I watched this movie. If I sound overly sensitive, you now know why. But anyways, the TV show was supposed to be for everyone in the family and the books were kids books but they were both still creepy (mainly the show). I haven’t watched an episode in years so maybe that’s why I still remember it being like that but still, I know it wasn’t as campy as this movie was. Maybe I’m the only one who feels this way but that’s OK. And I get that it’s hard to make a movie nowadays that is geared towards kids and have it be slightly “scary” but there has to be a better way for it to turn out. Maybe if the movie focused on a specific set of monsters from the books, and not every one of them they could get their hands on, then that might have helped. Honestly, they shouldn’t have called this movie ‘Goosebumps’. They should have just kept everything else the same but just changed the name of Stine, the titles of his books and some of the monsters. We would all know what they were trying to rip off but we wouldn’t be able to legitimately have anything to straight up compare it to so there would be less to complain about.
Besides the movie being a weak adaption of the material it’s based off, there were other things I didn’t like. The overall story was something I didn’t find much interest in. All the monsters being let free and having to get put back into their books sounds generic to me. Like I hinted some lines ago, if they would have used certain monsters as the center point and actually had a specific story than that would have been better. They could have took the TV show premise and just expound on it to fit the cinematic format. Hey, they could have left so many openings for sequels! OK, now lets get back to being serious. There kind of was a monster at the center of this movie when you think about it. Slappy, the ventriloquist dummy, was the “head villain”, I guess you can say, but that was another mistake. Yes, he had a vendetta with Stine, but other than that, there was nothing appealing about that character that says he should be propped ahead of all these other monsters and be that head guy. I’d rather have seen a bunch of monsters just running wild, under the command of no one, and watch our “heroes” try to save the day.
Like I’ve said, the movie wasn’t awful but the entertainment value didn’t really come from the action side of things. Yes, it gave the movie life to see people constantly running away from monsters but it wasn’t necessarily exciting to watch. When the monsters are trying to attack Stine and company at the store, I wanted to be entertained by that “big” action scene but I just wasn’t. It didn’t have those elements that sparked my interest. The visuals also dropped the action scenes down a peg. When it came to anything involving the monsters, visually, it just looked like you could tell where cuts on the budget were ultimately made. I’m saying the movie looked like it was made 20 or 30 years ago but in a time where technology has the visuals in a lot of movies looking amazing, this movie should be disappointed in its end product. Lastly, I just want to add that although this movie wasn’t as dumb and ridiculous as I thought it would have been, it still couldn’t avoid being corny throughout but I expected it to be even more corny than it was so it’s not that big of a hit on the overall quality.
‘Goosebumps’ still has my childhood self rolling in his grave at how unfamiliar the vibe of this movie is compared to the books and TV show but overall the movie was better than I expected. This movie is probably not meant for me to love but will definitely be something the whole family can see and no one member will leave in complete boredom.
RATING: Might Rent
(Photo Credit: http://static.blog.scholastic.com/ink_splot_26/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/Goosebumps.jpg; Sony Pictures Entertainment)