Viewers beware, you probably won’t get a scare, but you’ll still have a good time.
I have fond memories of watching Goosebumps as a youngster. The show was always on YTV. I read and bought every single book at Scholastic fairs, and I hoped R.L. Stine would write me back (I wrote a few letters to him when I was eight and nine, but no luck).
This is (almost) the perfect movie for those who want to take a stroll down memory lane, or, as I like to call it, “quintessential 90’s Canadiana.” Goosebumps tells the story of Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) moving into a new neighbourhood – meaning new neighbours. His next door neighbour, R.L. Stine (Jack Black), isn’t exactly a part of the welcoming committee, which makes it tough for Zach to get to know Stine’s daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush).
Somehow the two manage to make contact (which, clearly, Papa Stine is NOT happy about) because Zach ends up inside Hannah’s home, releasing monsters from the manuscripts Stine has (stupidly, one might argue) left in plain view.
Anyone who has read the Goosebumps series knows this isn’t a series that’s meant to shock the living daylights out of you (I think the Fear Street Series is a bit more suited for that), and Stine’s subtexts in the books are more comedic than terrifying. But I am afraid of clowns, I don’t like dummies (funny enough, it was BECAUSE of Stine’s Slappy I hated ventriloquism for a while) so there’s this interesting blend of scary-fun-comedy that runs rampant throughout the film.
I have to say I liked Black’s portrayal of R.L. Stine. It’s not the Stine I grew up with (that Stine always gave such calm introductions to some of the episodes – often juxtaposed with the scene around him), but it’s a version of Stine I welcome. Dramatic, quirky and funny. I feel like they wrote Black’s version as an ‘alternate version’ of the real Stine, and it certainly charmed me!
The story is predictable, but sound. There’s a small twist I was and wasn’t expecting, but it didn’t bother me too much. What did bother me were some of the lines. Things like “I belong in your imagination” are barf inducing, but I suppose it matches the tone of the movie.
What did I enjoy the most? The monsters! The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Slappy (shudders) the dummy, the lawn gnomes…and no Goosebumps movie is a movie without Monster Blood!
Would I say this is an Academy Award winner? No. But if you’re looking for a good family movie that’s okay to take your kids to (think something of the Halloweentown type of film), or you’re looking for a Halloweenish date night movie, then consider Goosebumps. Once in a while, you need to go see a movie for fun, and I think this fills that ‘fun movie’ void nicely. Solid eight out of ten. The trailer is below.
Oh, and I also must note: who ever thought there was a ‘Scholastic Canada Films’ company?!
Keep it reel!