It is good to be back in the saddle again. Now that a lot of my life has freed itself up, I believe that I can finally get back on my regular review schedule. What better way to celebrate this triumph than with a review riddled with nostalgia? I never personally was the biggest Goosebumps fan. Nothing against them, but I was reading Stephen King at an early age and I found his books to be much more adult oriented and with higher stakes. Obviously though, Goosebumps was made for kids, not the argument I am trying to make. Just stating that when it came to my scares as a kid and young adult, I looked more towards Are You Afraid of the Dark? and Stephen King books than Goosebumps. But all things considered, I still read a few of the books and I did enjoy the television series when there was nothing else on for me to watch. So I decided to go to the movies and give it a go.
The Goosebumps movie is set in a small town called Madison Delaware. Our protagonist, Zach (Dylan Minette) and his mother movie to the small town from New York City after Zach’s father dies of off-camera-itis. Zach quickly becomes smitten with the girl next store named Hannah (Odeya Rush) who is controlled by her over protective father who is later revealed to be RL Stine (Jack Black). Zach and Zach’s friend Champ (Ryan Lee) break into their home one day when they think Hannah is being attacked by Stine. They learn that RL Stine’s books have a special power that makes the monsters come to life. After accidentally releasing Stine’s worst creation, Slappy the Dummy, the movie follows our protagonists as they try to save the town from Slappy’s evil reign of terror.
Jack Black… Just Jack Black… Jack Black is a self opening pinata, he is a gift! Jack Black plays RL Stine in this movie and he is easily the best part of it. His comedy, his acting, his sense of humor just brings so much greatness to this movie! Black is so good that he brings up the subpar acting of the other people in this movie. Jack Black is easily the best thing about this movie.
Slappy is a Good Villain
Out of the Goosebumps villains, none is more iconic than Slappy. Slappy the Dummy is the Joker of the Goosebumps series and one of the only monsters in the series (TV and books) that legitimately terrified me as a child. There is just something about his omnipresent attitude and the fact that you can never truly defeat Slappy, you can only keep him at bay.
Slappy for this movie was a foregone conclusion. He is the most iconic of all the villains and typically the smartest among them, but all things considered, he is still a solid villain and a true horror on top of that.
The Stephen King/RL Stine Jokes
The fact that RL Stine is frequently compared unfavorably to Stephen King is not lost on the makers of this film. There are some great moments, made even greater by the comedy of Jack Black where Stine goes on angry tirades about Stephen King and the fact that he is better than him. There is even a moment when Stine finds himself in the high school and they are doing The Shining THE PLAY… I don’t know about you but I want to see The Shining The motherfucking play! That sound fucking awesome! But I digress… These jokes that poke fun at Stine and King’s rivalry is some of the best comedy in the movie and are the moments where I laughed the hardest.
High School Clichés
Oh dear god, this was the worst part of this movie is the horrible high school clichés that are right out of the Stereotype handbook. First off, I love the fact that Madison Delaware is a ‘small town’ but has a high school dance of well over 3,000 students dancing! Unless this town was humping like jack rabbits and shooting out triplets at a time, I do not think that this school should be that fucking big! Second, I always hate the trope where a high schooler or kid calls the cops, which you are supposed to do and encouraged to do when you see a disturbance or a potential moment when a neighbor is beating his kid and the cops instantly dismiss it and the mom blames the kid for making the call. What the fuck is the matter with you people? If this were to happen in real life, I guarantee these cops would be all over that fucking house in case he locked her in the basement with bear traps which he fucking has! This is just the icing on the cake when you have the stereotypical muscle-bound jock and blonde bombshell of a homecoming queen show up to exist and to have a person for Champ to crush on. All of these tropes are in this movie and they are so damn insufferable to sit through!
If You Don’t Remember Goosebumps, You Won’t Get a Lot of the References
As I said in the opening, I am not a big Goosebumps fan. Because of this, I have to rely on the massive amounts of exposition dump on who the monster is, what book they are from, and how totes badass they are. I am sure these villains are terrifying and they are really cool to see for people who know the stories… But for someone like me and a lot of the people who are going to see this movie… Yeah a lot of this is just going to go straight over your head.
I can get behind that a movie like Goosebumps that wants to take nods to the books… But when you throw in so many nods, the people who are fans are nodding WAY too much and the people who are not fans are left in the dust.
Goosebumps… isn’t a terrible movie. It has its good moments, but overall Goosebumps is a forgettable movie. Anyone who is fans of the franchise will like it, but if you are not a fan then this movie just isn’t for you and it isn’t a good way to get involved in the stories. It is worth a one time watch, but that is just about it. I’ll stick to my Stephen King; suck it Stine.
Final Score 2.5/5
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