I read many of the classic Goosebumps books when I was younger, and I loved them. Creepy plotlines, M. Night Shyamalan worthy twists, great characters, and a unique comedic edge made those books great reads for any kid in the 90’s and 2000’s. The TV show, despite most of the episodes being nonsensical, corny, and not scary at all, did provide an episode which captured the chills of R. L. Stine’s books every now and then. I wondered what a feature film adaptation of Goosebumps novels would be like, and thanks to the director of Gulliver’s Travels (the bad one), I now know that. Goosebumps is directed by Rob Letterman and written by Darren Lemke, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski. Stars-Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee. Premise-A boy (Zach) and his mother move to Maryland in search of a new life. Once there, Zach befriends a neighbor (Hanna) whom he believes has a psychotic father. While investigating Hanna’s house, he comes across some manuscripts of the classic Goosebumps novels. After he opens one, all heck breaks loose as the monsters literally materialize from their books into reality. The rest of them are released one by one to wreak havoc on the little town. Now, Zach must team up with Hanna and her father (R.L. Stine) to capture all of Stine’s creatures before the whole town is destroyed.
The absolute first thing I have to talk about is the copious, egregious, and downright astounding amount of advertising that was put into this movie! I mean, WOW! YouTube ads (the ones you can’t skip) flooding my Kindle and smartphone (which is incredibly rare), superfluous TV spots and trailers, and, my gosh, a sponsored video of Markiplier and Jack Black playing Five Nights at Freddy’s (a very unfunny video btw)?! That’s Sony for ya! A company that just LUUUUUVS to put its own products in its own films, and advertising till it hurts! Bear in mind, this is not necessarily the movie’s fault; it’s just Sony being Sony. Sorry, I just needed to vent. Anyway, are there any actual problems with the movie? Oh, most certainly! One of the things I was very worried about was the massive amount of CGI that was showcased in the trailers, and needless to say most of the F/X are pretty terrible. Not Green Lantern levels of atrocious, but they are pretty noticeable. As for the acting, it’s kinda mixed. Black does a decent job, and Dylan is likable, but MAN, Odeya and Ryan are annoying! It doesn’t help that this movie tries way too hard to convey romance, because these actors have no chemistry. Aside from that, there is some shaky cam, some horrible depictions of police officers (something I have been seeing way to much of in kids films), a bunch of clichés progressing the story, and some jokes that fall completely flat.
Even though this movie is by no means great, it does have some incredible positives. One of them is the jokes. Sure, not everyone is gold, but when they write a funny one, it hits home! There is a Stephen King joke that takes place in a car, and if you see this movie (provided you know R.L Stine and Stephen King’s works), it will make your day! Of course, seeing these monsters and brilliant creations come to life on the big screen brings a great nostalgic rush back to me. Some of the scenes do have some great tension, and one or two practical effects look very creepy. However, the best part of this movie is the overall great tone of Halloween. Seriously, the atmosphere and environment of this movie just screams (pun unintended) Halloween. Because of that, this movie is ideal to watch during this season. It may not be the best adaptation, Jack Black film, comedy, or kid’s film, but it knows what to deliver on, and sometimes that is all that is required. Goosebumps gets Guy’s Guru Grade of a B-.