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Goosebumps: A Breezy Film That is Loads of Fun

April 21, 2016

Goosebumps movie poster

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Goosebumps is a fun film that features loads of imagination and a likable cast. It is a breath of fresh air that moves quickly towards an enjoyable conclusion. It takes all 62 Goosebump books that R.L. Stine wrote from 1992 to 1997 and packs them into one enjoyable romp. The result is a surprisingly coherent film that has a firm sense of identity (fun) and features rampaging monsters and garden gnomes. If you are looking for a Goosebumps nostalgia trip you might be disappointed, but I recommend you keep an open mind and embrace the CGI Yeti mayhem.

Goosebumps movie monsters.

Goosebumps tells the age-old story of what happens when literary monsters are freed from their books. Author R.L. Stine (Jack Black) discovered early on that his imagination was a blessing and a curse when it came to his books. When he wrote his manuscripts on a certain typewriter the monsters became real and needed to be under lock and key. So, in order to protect his books, the cranky Stine secludes himself and his teenage daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) so that nobody can accidentally open the books and cause a monster mash.

Stine’s worst nightmare is realized when a teenage boy and his mom move in next door. Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom Gale (a great Amy Ryan) move to town because she got a job as a vice-principal at the local high school. They are likable duo who have a refreshing relationship because they actually like each other.  Zach eventually meets Hannah in a backyard meet cute and is scared away by the overbearing Stine. However, Stine’s scare tactics only make Zach more curious about the goings-on at the ominous house next door.

On the night of the big school dance,  Zach and his new friend Champ (Ryan Lee) hear yelling at Stine’s house. They investigate and accidentally open up the The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena  manuscript. The large yeti gets loose and eventually all the other manuscripts are opened. This forces our heroes to spend a long night chasing down the monsters to get them back in their books before they hurt the townsfolk

Goosebumps movie

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Goosebumps play like the Night at the Museum films met an Amblin movie (Goonies, Gremlins) and spawned a roller coaster. Once the monsters are freed the movie never lets up and moves fluidly from set piece to set piece. I enjoyed spotting all the different monsters, and appreciated the mixture of practical effects and CGI. None of them are totally threatening because of the PG rating, but they still provide some fun moments. It never gets old watching murderous lawn gnomes attacking likable characters.

The performances are all solid and the three teenagers have great chemistry. You cheer for them as they are attacked by werewolves, blobs and zombies. Amidst all the mayhem there are neat character moments and everybody in the cast gets a moment to shine. My favorite moment involves a cheeky moment between Stine and the cowardly Champ. The two are being chased by ghouls and Stine gets stuck in a gate door. Here is how it plays out:

Stine: Save yourselves! Go on without me!

Champ: Okay! Good luck!

Stine: I didn’t mean it, Champion! He left me! What kind of monster takes you up on that offer?

I’m amazed that after Gulliver’s Travels director Rob Letterman was able to bounce back so successfully. I was worried about the film but Letterman proved me wrong and managed to make everything roll along nicely. He balances the characters and action well and got solid performances out of his actors. I appreciate that created a neat movie where teenagers actually get themselves involved in adventures, and I hope the younger crowds appreciate it.

Goosebumps is totally worth your time because it is breezy, fun and rewatchable. I hope it has a long life on cable and I wouldn’t mind watching a sequel.

 

 

 

 

 

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. April 21, 2016 11:17 am

    Nice review. It’s fun and silly, and basically perfect for the whole family.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      April 21, 2016 11:24 am

      I was interested by the trailer but a bit concerned. Now I think I feel better, even excited about seeing it.

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