“Goosebumps” is a pleasant little surprise of a movie – silly and fun but emotionally satisfying. It’s a well-timed, slapstick romp for families looking for a fun movie this Halloween season. Furthermore, “Goosebumps” will have a much broader appeal, attracting the “older kids” in the family, who read the books at the peak of their popularity.
The film is a mash-up, of sorts, of author R.L. Stine’s monster creations from several of his books. The original trailer for the film seemed like the movie was going to be nothing but a nostalgic cash-in on the “Goosebumps” name. Having read them as a child, the books were relatively eerie for a young reader and the movie seemed too over-the-top and didn’t align with the tone of the books. But in the “Goosebumps” movie, there are genuine stakes and perilous events. It was a good lesson in not judging a movie from its trailer.
High school student Zach (Dylan Minnette) is forced to move to Delaware because his mom (Amy Ryan) got a vice principal job. They are moving from New York City, in the hopes of a fresh start, since Zach’s father passed away just a year prior. Zach is closed-off and seems to be having a hard time and does not want to have to face a new high school and meet new people. An eccentric classmate named Champ (Ryan Lee) instantly takes a liking to Zach.
One night, Zach meets Hannah (Odeya Rush), who lives next store with her father (played by Jack Black). Zach is instantly attracted to Hannah but her home life seems to be rather questionable. Zach has encountered her father a few times and he is never welcoming and assures Zach he should stay away.
One night, Zach and Champ break into Hannah’s house. Zach thinks there is something wrong and wants to make sure Hannah is okay. Zach and Champ notice a shelf filled with “Goosebumps” manuscripts. They unlock one of them and the abdominal snowman wreaks havoc on them. Zach, naturally, has a few questions for Hannah. They soon discover that her father is R.L. Stine, the creator of the series, and his creations come to life once the books are unlocked.
The books all become unlocked and all of Stine’s creations run amok on the town. It’s up to Zach, Hannah, Champ and Stine to get the monsters back in the book before too much destruction occurs. “Goosebumps” is an exciting race against the clock, with lots of laughs along the way. Some of the material might be too scary for the younger kids in the family but kids 10 and older should get a kick out of this movie.
Minnette is a strong young star, who convincingly portrays teen angst and love, while trying to fight off a plethora of monsters. He has some lovely scenes with Ryan, as they both try to cope with their new life. Black is hammy as ever but it works here with the wacky material.
If you’re looking for family night at the movies, see “Goosebumps”. Don’t even consider going to “Pan” over this.
“Goosebumps” rates 7 out of 10