Movie Review: "Goosebumps"

There is something unsettling about the Rob Letterman directed “Goosebumps,” and it isn’t the scares that it offers. At first glance, the new film about the monsters R.L. Stine creates in his books coming to life feels like an updated “Jumanji” crossed with the self-awareness of “The Lego Movie,” but when one takes a second look, there is something off about it on multiple levels.

The movie stars Jack Black as a fictionalized version of Stine, one whose stories have the ability to come to life due to a magical typewriter. He has a teenage daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush), whom he keeps locked away and when a new family moves in next door, the teenage son, Zach (Dylan Minnette) can’t help but wonder why she isn’t allowed out.

It is actually a half-hour or so before the film gets to the notion of the Goosebumps books and things truly start. Zach and his new friend Champ (Ryan Lee) accidentally release the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena and then Slappy the dummy is freed and he, in turn frees the rest. It happens so incredibly quickly once it starts that it feels like “Goosebumps” jumps ahead by several chapters.

Slappy is our lead villain, he is in charge of the monsters, but why he is remains unclear. What Slappy wants is unclear. He is the big bad and he has no character, no motivation, no nothing. He is just bad because Stine wrote him that way because Stine writes scary stories. Slappy is the most well-rounded, well thought out of the villains and is two dimensional.

Part of the issue here is that the film trades almost entirely on the audience’s knowledge of the books. If you have read any of the Slappy stories, you get who he is and why he does what he does. If you read the Abominable Snowman story, you understand him, and the same is true for the Werewolf of Fever Swamp and the rest. If you haven’t read them (or haven’t thought of the werewolf or snowman since their original publication 20+ years ago), they’re just generic bad guys.

Herein lies another problem. While I am too old to have read the books when they were released, my daughter is just slightly too young. That makes it feel like the goal is to hit twentysomethings who remember reading the books or watching the TV series and who are looking for a hit of nostalgia, but the leads play young which may make them unappealing to twentysomethings.

Also an issue is the film’s pacing. Thirty minutes to the first Goosebumps bit and then it’s quickly all the monsters all at once. There is no sensible building of the issue, Darren Lemke’s screenplay from Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski’s story feels like it exists solely to put as many of Stine’s monsters in the film as possible in order to amp up the nostalgia factor. Many of these monsters are only momentarily visible, making it almost a game (“Hey, was that…” “Oh my god, did you see…” “I love that they threw in…”) and nothing more.

When the movie does end, the whole town seems to have instantly forgotten about the issue, despite the insanely massive amounts of destruction and random freezing of human beings and whatever deaths may have occurred. Don’t ask how or if any of this was dealt with, the movie doesn’t care, it showed you your favorite Goosebumps monsters from way back when and now that it has, it’s done.

One fascinating, and important, thing to note is that while there may be serious problems with both plot and pacing, “Goosebumps” almost overcomes them. It is raucous and loud and generally amusing. It does give a few too many nudges to the audience asking that viewers acknowledge its cleverness, but much of it still works.

The kudos here go to Jack Black who, while regularly on the verge of going over the top, manages to hold it all in, delivering an almost (but not quite) understated performance as Stine. While Minnette is the lead and the film attempts to give him some backstory, but anything deeper than a surface attraction to Hannah is instantly jettisoned once the monsters from the books comes alive. Zach becomes nothing more than a generic new kid who clearly is going to be super popular—and must have been super popular back home—but just hasn’t been at the school long enough. Champ is pure comic sidekick and Hannah exists for little reason other than the film’s need for a young woman and Zach’s need to explore what’s going on inside the Stine house. Amy Ryan is good as Zach’s mom, but why exactly she is here is unclear, and the same is true for Ken Marino’s character, one of the teachers at the school.

Even so, the rollercoaster of it all is going to be enough to satisfy many, especially if they don’t look too deeply, don’t think too hard, and are already emotionally invested in the franchise. Others may have some fun, but will leave with the sense that with just a little more work on the story, “Goosebumps” could have been something memorable.




photo credit: Sony Pictures

Categories: review

Tags: , , , , ,

31 replies

  1. The best way to learn how to get free robux in roblox is here which will provide you the greatest piece of knowledge.You will enjoy playing this game very much so you should wait any more and grab it as early as possible.


  2. Great website friends for roblox hack tool, free robux and tix..


  3. Thank you so much for the review. I find the name of this movie interesting so I think I will watch it but just 2.5 stars… It seems not a nice movie.
    super smash flash 2 | unblocked games | happy wheels | gmail sign in | facebook log in sign up | hotmail | hotmail sign in | lupus


  4. FAbulous post and must be shared with google plus. full site


  5. This is a really super post. Must admit that you are amid the best writer I have read. I appreciate your making the effort to discuss this class of article.

    facebook video downloader


  6. This blog post really grabbed my attention. With that said I am going to subscribe.


  7. Therefore I will get more updates on what you have to say. Please keep writing as I want to learn more.


  8. Really great post, Thank you for sharing this knowledge. Excellently written article, if only all bloggers offered the same level of content as you, the internet would be a much better place. Please keep it up!..


  9. Im fairly positive theyre likely to be informed a great deal of new stuff here than anyone


  10. Thanks for the best was very useful for me.keep sharing such idea
    s in the future as well.this was actually what i was looking for,and i
    am glad to came here
    you keep up the fantastic work!my weblog
    age of war
    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and finally got the
    happy wheels

    tank trouble 3


  11. Thanks for the best was very useful for me.keep sharing such ideas in the future as well.this was actually what i was looking for,and i am glad to came here!
    Tank trouble
    Hi! I’ve been reading your blog for a while
    now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give youu a shout out from Austin Texas! Just wanted to tell you keep up the fantastic work!my weblog:
    Earn to die

    Barron Games

    Subble shooter

    Tank trouble


  12. Thanks for sharing. I hope it will be helpful for too many people that are searching for this topic.
    shooting games | dog games | fighting games | mickey mouse games | Subway Surfers


  13. That is really a weird thing and i just amazed to discover this awesome post. Thanks for share this with us. I just amazed to be here and to discover this awesome post.
    Call Girls in jaipur


  14. Let’s keep out sites for your child! click:
    brain games | puzzle games | tetris | happy wheels | agario | abcya | fnaf 4
    To play for free!


  15. I must appreciate the way you have expressed your feelingsthrough your blog!. Click here to play


  16. Thanks for your post. Click to play:


  17. Thanks for sharing the information. It is very useful for my future.
    keep sharing. Can you play more games at :

    mortal kombat xl
    atari breakout
    dragon ball z games


  18. Let’s keep are safe place to play the very best free games for kids! Please click: | | happy wheels | abcya | fnaf 4 | happy wheels the game free to play for free!


  19. The best space for your child to relax!: wingsio | slither io | ya


  20. What a nice blog, it has very professional and creative content that i find really helpful. If every page that one opens has such great content, i would say that browsing could be the order of the day. History dissertation paper rewriting help offered by well trained experts that guarantee the best. Pijat Panggilan Jakarta http://www.aniesmassage.blogspot.com Pijat Panggilan Bandung http://www.massage-di-bandung.blogspot.com Pijat Panggilan Jakarta Pijat Panggilan Jakarta Pijat Panggilan Bandung Pijat Panggilan Bandung


  21. Nice post. I enjoyed reading this post.Can you play more games at : friv games online | friv online games | papa’s games | Juegos de deportes | Juegos 1


  22. Pusat Benda Bertuah Hasil Dari Penarikan Ghaib, Jual Koleksi Pusaka Benda Bertuah Murah Alami Asli Paling Banyak Dicari, – Jual Bulu Perindu dan Minyak Pengasihan Bulu Perindu Asli, – Jual Keris Semar Mesem Asli Murah, – Jual Gelang Akar Bahar Hitam, – Jual Pusaka Kujang Senjata Prabu siliwangi, – Jual Senjata Tradisional Pusaka Trisula Sakti, semua ada di situs Pusat Koleksi Benda Benda Gaib Bertuah Alami – benda bertuah, benda pusaka bertuah, batu bertuah, benda pusaka, benda bertuah alami, benda bertuah 999


  23. شركة تساهيل كشف تسربات المياه بالاحساء

    عزيزى العميل اهلا ومرحبا بك فى موقع مؤسسة الحرمــين للمقاولات العامة شركة عزل اسطح وخزانات بالاحساء و الرياض
    الموقع الرائد فى عالم الخدمات المنزليه والاول بالمملكه العربيه السعوديه لما يتمتع به من خدمات مميزه ، فالبرغم من اننا مؤسسه ربحيه الا ان مزاولة نشاطتنا كلها مرتبط على نحو وثيق بتلبية طلبات وحاجات عملائنا ولتحقيق ذلك الهدف نقدم لك كافة الخدمات الشامله بالالتزام الصارم وبأرقى المعايير شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل المهنيه المتطوره
    فلدينا خبره طويله فى مجال مكافحة الحشرات والكشف عن التسربات وتسليك المجارى وعزل الاسطح وترميم وصيانه المنازل وتخزينه بكفاءة منقطعة النظير ، لا تتردد واتصل بموقع مؤسسة الحرمــين فخدماتنا ليس لها بديل واسعارنا ليس لها مثيل ،ولدينا فريق عمل يتصل مع العملاء على جسور الثقه والصدق والامانه فى العمل ، وهدفنا هو ارضاؤك وراحتك ، لا تقلق ونحن معك . شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالاحساء . لا تجهد نفسك ونحن تحت امرك ورهن اشارتك .
    أبرز خدمات مؤسسة الحرمــين للمقاولات العامة بالدمام والرياض

    شركة عزل اسطح وخزانات بالاحساء

    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالاحساء

    شركة كشف تسربات المياه بالجبيل

    شركة عزل اسطح بالدمام

    شركة عزل اسطح بالاحساء

    شركه عزل مائى بالدمام


  24. Amazing .. Thanks for giving me the useful information. I think I need it!
    facebook baixar
    baixar whatsapp
    temple run
    traffic rider jogo


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s