HOLLYWOOD—As a kid, I have to give loads of credit for my burgeoning reading skills to R.L. Stine and his highly popular series “Goosebumps.” I remember reading my first book at around the age of 9 or 10 while at the bookstore with my mom. In fact, the first book I read was “The Cuckoo Clock of Doom.” From there, it became a staple for me to get 2-3 of these books a month, to the point that I had the entire collection, and in mint condition, I must admit.
So when I found out they were giving the popular franchise the big screen treatment I was ecstatic. I will be honest, when I saw that trailer for “Goosebumps,” I said this looks a bit more comedic than spooky. Which the movie does turn out to be, but it’s a hoot to watch it all unfold. Does the film adaptation focus on one particular book? No. It could have been a wise idea considering the box-office success would allow plenty of more sequels to unfold in the coming years.
Instead the film takes the approach of incorporating a number of the books in the franchise into one flick.
The flick stars Jack Black as Mr. Shivers aka R.L. Stine. He uses that pseudonym to protect himself and his daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush). When Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (Amy Ryan) move to the town of Madison, Delaware, they encounter some strange things in the house next door.
That leads Zach and his new best friend Champ (Ryan Lee) to do some investigating, in which they unwittingly unleash a bevy of monsters from the popular series. At the forefront of the chaos is Slappy the Dummy from the popular ‘Night of the Living’ talking dummy sub-series. There is also the Yeti from the ‘The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena,’ the lawn gnomes, the werewolf of Fever Swamp and a host of other characters, all memorable I must say.
I honestly love the fact that the writers choose to take a bit of a comedic route with the franchise because it invites a new audience to learn about the popular series, but also allows those of us who grew up reading the novels to reminisce about those books that we found scary as a kid.
Jack Black is perfect casting as the kooky writer, and he plays double duty voicing Slappy, as well as Brent Green from the book ‘My Best Friend is Invisible.’ The rest of the cast mesh well with the funny hijinks that take place as the characters do their best to recapture all the monsters that were once a form of imagination, but have gotten a chance to live in the real world.
It’s amazing that I haven’t read a “Goosebumps” book since I was like 12-13 and with this movie all those memories came flooding back to me like it was yesterday. Granted, the very little ones might be frightened by what is seen on the screen, but I’d say any kid 7 and older will have a treat watching the popular series that was all about imagining what these characters and monsters would like in real life.
“Goosebumps” is spooky fun that will put a smile on the faces of fans of the series and even those who never read a book.