Release Date: October 16, 2015
Director: Rob Letterman
Writer: Darren Lemke (screenplay), Scott Alexander
Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Ken Marino, Halston Sage, Steven Krueger, Keith Arthur Bolden, Amanda Lund, Timothy Simons, Karan Soni, R.L. Stine, Caleb, Emery, Gabriela Fraile, Nate Andrade, Sheldon Brown, Melissa Brewer, Marshall Choka, Melissa Cowan, John Deifer
MPAA Rating: PG
Runtime: 103 minutes
Production Company: Columbia Pictures, LStar Capital, LStar Capital (in association with), Original Film, Scholastic Entertainment, Sony Pictures Animation, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), Village Roadshow Pictures (in association with), Village Roadshow Pictures, Columbia Pictures
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Country: USA, Australia
I have never read the Goosebumps series, but I do remember their huge popularity back in the 90’s. R.L. Stine, the author, has created a global phenomenon bringing his characters to life. The Goosebumps books were the talk of the town and in the hands of children all around the world. Rife with fantasy and horror themes, the books appeared to be the go-to source for children’s entertainment. It is in fact shocking that it took this long for an adaptation to come around; Sony Pictures did the best they could with the original material. It’s a children’s series that either still has fans or will revitalize the ones from the past. It has its moments being silly, fun, and over the top, and hence, may be the perfect treat even for the new younger generations.
I don’t believe the goal of the movie was to replicate the looks of R.L. Stine in his on screen character, but they still managed to pull off an entertaining lead with Jack Black. I love watching this guy on screen, because he never lets me down. Whether the role is big or small, Jack Black always has more than enough energy to portray his character. It’s like acting gives the fuel to his performance; the more he acts, the stronger his performance becomes. He’s a man who loves his job, and this you can tell through his performances—the same applies when he sets out to play R.L. Stine. He plays a creepy, cocky, interesting fellow, and his mannerisms are a treat to watch. All he cares about is his daughter and keeping his life private from the outside world. His has a mysterious introduction, making the audience even more curious about the way he ticks. From the trailers, I thought Zach (Dylan Minnette) would be easily forgotten, but his character held some weight. Hannah (Odeya Rush) had her moments too, but nothing strong enough to leave a lasting impression.
While there are countless books, titles, and chapters to the Goosebumps series, the film did a fine job at weaving all of them together. Based on the little I know of the series, I can say the most popular of the characters took the center screen, instructing the other creatures. The premise was set, and the plot didn’t waste any time to get going. This is expected from a movie that is based off of a children’s book, but sometimes there can be missteps, too. Another surprising triumph of the movie was its special effects. As each creature escaped from a book or was being forced back in, the visuals representing this spoke volumes. Instead of a quick zap and poof, the details used clearly set the tone for the fantastical nature of the story. It made me feel that this universe of wonder goes far beyond books or the creative mind of R.L. Stine. It made me feel that he is only a brush in the larger set of tools.
What I hated about this movie was the character Champ (Ryan Lee). His middle name should be Annoying, and last name Stupid, because that’s the best way to describe his role. I got very sick of his random bumbling nature, as he bounced around from scene to another. His desperate attempt at pleasing the opposite sex was a train wreck unto itself. He showed no confidence, and got in the way of other characters’ development, mainly being the uninvited third wheel. Even though, there’s nothing wrong with being goofy, he showed a negative side to this nature that may not have been witnessed before. His personality was so warped as if he’s on a continuous loop, learning what sentient means. He’s the type of a person that makes happy sad, and I hoped his character would be killed off for the entire duration of the runtime. However, he wasn’t the only one who didn’t use his better judgment at times. Zach was also a victim to invading people’s privacy and making a dumb decision here and there as well.
No one was expecting a groundbreaking blockbuster here, but the risk taken by the filmmaker is still much appreciated. The film didn’t have many, but still managed to be passable. It may sound like I enjoyed most of the film, but I’m on the fence. While some scenes hit home, others did absolutely nothing for me. It’s not to say that the film is bad, but it simply wasn’t meant for me. This is a film based on a children’s series and was adapted for children. So in that sense, I’d say you have a winner. I wanted more from the overall experience. There are a few laughs you’ll have, and there are moments when you’re on board, but in the end it’s only slightly entertaining, and won’t be remembered for any period of time.