It is safe to say that most of us college kids have read at least one Goosebumps book in our past. At the very least, I am sure everyone has heard of the young adult horror anthology series that finally made it to the silver screen this past weekend. Most of us probably remember being scared or a little freaked out by R.L. Stine’s novels, but do not expect the same from the film. Starring Jack Black as Stine, Goosebumps is a non-scary, PG adaptation of a new story. Keeping true to the originals, Stine penned the script which made the overall story very good.
The new Goosebumps story follows three teenagers and Stine frantically trying to stop their small town of Madison, Del. from being destroyed after the teens accidentally let Stine’s real-life monsters escape from the pages of his books. The monsters are led by Slappy, the punny ventriloquist dummy who is masterfully voiced by Black. Just like all the other Goosebumps stories, this one is full of twists and turns. Without spoiling everything, the story winds up having great twists in both the middle and end.
The only part of the story that I found to be confusing was the explanation as to how the monsters become real and escaped from the original manuscripts. The monsters apparently came to life one day after Stine wanted them to be real and typed their stories with a magical typewriter. This is a ridiculous, far-fetched plot point that even little kids will see through.
Even though I did not like the way the monsters were explained, I did like the manner in which they came to life. When the manuscripts were unlocked and opened, the words flew off the pages as giant splotches of ink that converged to form the monsters. These CGI sequences were done very well because the ink first formed the frame of the monsters, then converted into fur, skin, etc. The exact opposite occurs when monsters are sucked back into the manuscripts. I thought this was clever animation. It was fun to watch and very creative.
The story was well-done and funny overall. I found the film to be very entertaining because the characters were very sarcastic.
Goosebumps is a great family comedy and only had a few parts that may make younger kids a little frightened. By keeping the film less scary, it appeals to a wider audience. Most of the favorite monsters from the books appear in the film, making it a conglomerate of all the original stories. For me, the film was a nostalgic look back at my childhood.
There were two scenes that really made the film stand out in terms of comedy. The first is towards the beginning, as Black goes off on a rant about acclaimed horror author Stephen King. He goes on a roughly five-minute spiel about how he is a much better author than King. The other humorous part comes at the end, when Stine makes a surprise blink-and-you-will-miss-it cameo. Keep a lookout for him in the school because it adds a nice last laugh.
The film kept a nice open ending just in case Sony Pictures wants to make a sequel. With a wildly successful book franchise and past television series, there is definitely potential for a Goosebumps sequel. Also, being the top-earning film this weekend does not hurt its sequel chances. I was surprised by how well done this movie was, so I would certainly go see a sequel. Sony’s gamble of a less scary adaptation truly paid off.