“Goosebumps” is a bit of a conundrum. The film is a fun and entertaining ride through Nostalgia-ville, but by the time the cheesy, albeit fantastic, credits roll, the film never truly feels like what the book and TV franchise’s fans deserved.
The film begins as Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother move to the small town of Delaware, Maine. Loathing the idea of trading the hustle and bustle of New York for the sleepy small-town lifestyle, Zach quickly learns that you really shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.
After accidentally setting free the famed author R.L. Stine’s (Jack Black) monsters from their leather-bound prisons, Zach, Champ (Ryan Lee) and Hannah (Odeya Rush) — Stine’s daughter — must team up to stop the creepy ghouls from tearing their town apart. Unfortunately for the teens, Slappy, Stine’s most infamous creation, isn’t going to go down without a fight.
I find it really hard to find to completely sort my feelings about this film. As a fan of Stine and his frightening books, I really liked the movie. Scratch that, I loved the movie. Maybe I shouldn’t have because it definitely has its share of problems. Luckily it hit enough of the right notes to make it extremely enjoyable.
Black was extremely fun as Stine, and while the character seems to be an exaggerated caricature of the man himself, Black brings the right amount of seriousness to balance the goofiness. One of the biggest mistakes with the film is overusing its star. While Black creates a great Stine, it’s his turn as the villain that really grates a little on my nerves. Slappy was quite terrifying when I was a kid, and Black’s voice just wasn’t what I craved.
Minette, Rush and Lee all do a great job of playing their parts — hero, damsel, and zany goofball friend. Yes, all of their performances were a bit cheesy, and over the top, but it’s a “Goosebumps” movie. No one is expecting Oscar-worthy performances. Each actor plays the lot he or she were given, and does so without wearing out welcomes.
Unfortunately, the movie’s strength is also its biggest weakness. The script isn’t bad. It’s actually exactly what you would expect from a Stine film, and that’s the problem. Everything from the quality of the effects to the characters to the “twist ending” all feel like something out of the original TV show, and they don’t really transfer to the big screen. The writers also seemed to get a little too carried away with the nostalgia. While it was fun seeing some of the old characters literally leap off the page, it felt very bloated.
The release also has a plethora of extra features with a few Blu-ray exclusives. There is an alternate opening and ending to the film, deleted scenes, blooper reel and casting gallery, to name a few.
“Goosebumps” is a fun adventure film for fans, and non-fans, and has finally found its perfect home … DVD.