Review: Goosebumps

This review was originally posted on Punch Drunk Critics

Goosebumps has a movie in twenty fifteen. I must say the 90s nostalgia is on full blast right now. I never really read the books but I did watch the FOX Kids show sometimes. R. L. Stine’s books series was a thing back in the mid-’90s; you couldn’t escape seeing those books in school and public libraries. When I found out this was a movie it was earlier this summer and I was left wondering what in the world is Jack Black doing in it? This isn’t Rock & Roll at all. Low and behold I left the movie quite surprised with just how fun and charming this whole movie was.

So what is Goosebumps? This movie is about a new kid in a new town and new school trying to fit in after the loss of his father. Like many classic stories he meets a girl and an adventure starts going from confronting what looks like an overbearing father of the girl to imaginary monsters becoming real. The movie is very boy-centric and I don’t know if that was the intent or not, but that is what I took away from it.

Zach Cooper (portrayed by Dylan Minnette) is our hero and the whole movie deals with father figures and mistakes and male vulnerability. Zach meets the neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush) very early on but is constantly told by her father, who we find out is R. L. Stine (portrayed by Jack Black), to stay away; nevertheless, Zach seems to want to “save” the girl from the evil dad but then ends up finding out that all the Goosebumps stories are real. He accidentally releases one of the monsters from the story and Zach, Hannah, and a new friend Champ (Ryan Lee) have to try and put the monsters back in the books with Stine.

During this Stine is very much dealing with the fact that his books are like his children and he feels guilty about trapping them but they are also a danger. With this it seems to help Zach open up to other people and become more confident in what he can do, along with falling in love with his daughter. Hannah doesn’t really do much. She doesn’t need much saving but really she’s reason to make the hero and our mentor character better. The Champ character is really funny as the comedy relief. This movie I think does really well at being a kid action horror movie. It has a ton of jump moments and age-appropriate threats. The CG monsters are really fun to look at also. The one standout for me was the werewolf that I think comes from the Werewolf of Fever Swamp that looks like a 90s teenager, wolf size Chuck Taylors split open.

The big bad of the movie is the character of Slappy the dummy who wants revenge on R. L. Stine for locking him up all those years. He’s like an angry son that’s come back to his father who has forsaken him. He’s the main one releasing the monsters and is dang near undefeatable. I like that the story is about kids essentially living the stories. It’s really super meta in that regard and uses a theme of winning through creation that I really enjoy in fiction. I wish I saw this in 3D – in general I enjoy the effect, and when you can clearly see a movie was made for with that in mind, I feel you lose something without viewing it in that way. Overall I think this movie is a really fun and enjoyable romp. Goosebumps is a movie you can watch with the kids and not be mad; you’ll have a good time.

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