A great visual adventure for all ages with enough maturity in the writing to pull the attention of adults as well, making all feel like a kid again.
“GOOSEBUMPS” follows teenage Zach as he moves to a small town with his mother and quickly finds his attention taken by the girl next door, daughter of famous author R.L. Stine played by Jack Black. When the writers imaginary demons are unleashed from his books on the small town they must work together to stop them all before there is no town left.
I was not a die-hard reader of the Goosebumps books growing up but I do remember more than a few of them. They were cleverly written and as a young teenager, I can remember them being wild adventures that showcased the imagination of R. L. Stine. When word of this film broke I was certainly intrigued to see how well it would be adapt the source-material to a new generation of audiences that were not familiar with Stine’s written works.
There was no denying this film would target a younger demographic, but I can honestly say I was pleasantly surprised by how well this script was able to also include older audiences. The pace of the story was swift and really never wavered, and surprisingly it creates characters you can actually connect with and care about. Jack Black as R. L. Stine was a perfect selection, and although I do not know much about the real Stine, Black’s charismatic interpretation was highly enjoyable.
He felt every bit the part of an eccentric writer, and was also able to deliver some of the motivations behind his lengthy catalog of titles and why he loved writing. With his personality Black captured the charm and energy the role needed to make it not only appeal to younger crowds, but the older ones as well that grew up with Stine’s novels. To be honest Black, to sum it up, acted with a similar persona to some of his past roles but in the case of this film it just worked, and resulted in one of his better performances in recent years.
Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush and Ryan Lee were also great. In a project centered around younger characters, performance become a major importance and in this one they shine. Ryan Lee was again great comic-relief and manages to carry some great comical weight on his young shoulders, much like he did in “Super 8”. None of them tried too hard, felt forced, or over-acted, and it was a major reason why this film was so enjoyable.
Kids will gravitate towards this film but with some quality writing adults can also sit back, pull from their inner youth and laugh at some of the well placed, clever dialogue. The jokes are fit nicely into the flow of the dialogue and never feel like they are begging for a laugh. The cast also make the most out of the material and deliver the comical moments with ease which balances well with an older, more experienced actor in Jack Black. There was also a good range in the comedic delivery with some subtle, and in your face humor which to me was something that kept it fresh. Nothing is more of a drag than a script trying to hit the same joke over and over and luckily this film does not.
The special-effect were also pretty good for the most part. Some of the monsters come off as very cartoonish, but then again this film is aimed for kids. There was still enough detail to keep them from looking cheesy while not making them too violent looking for the target audience. Sure I would have liked to have seen the monsters look more realistic but in the end they still were fun to watch. They just at times looked out of place with the rest of the lighting and backdrops. They were still all easily able to fill the story-line with all the monsters kids could ask for, to create a fast paced wild-ride of an adventure.
Overall “Goosebumps” was a fun-filled from start-to-finish and honored the source material well. It turned out to be a great night at the movies, and a story that can pull you in and make you forget about what’s around you. Young or old, this one will draw from the inner child in us all and make you chuckle while sitting on the edge of your seat. The cast was great, and the story was simple but imaginative, and with so many good qualities about it, this film is certainly worth the time.
– Starring –
Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell
– Directed By –
Time: 103 min
MPAA Rating: PG (For scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor)