In 1992 a book series was introduced that would truly give it’s younger viewers (dare I say), goosebumps. The original series had 62 titles introduced in a five year span. I say original because there were several spin off series that would follow these young adult masterpieces. The creator of this series is the very talented R.L. Stine who is portrayed in this film by a very enthusiastic Jack Black. Twenty years prior to this movie’s release we had a very endearing syndicated television series that ran for three years.
When I first saw a preview for this movie I was filled with a sense of nostalgia and excitement to see these characters make it to the big screen. I’ve always been a fan of Jack Black and I was excited to see him playing Mr. Stine in this big budget production. However, the last three words in the previous sentence are exactly what is wrong with this movie. Don’t get me wrong, the movie wasn’t horrible, but it is definitely formulaic and plot deficient. Before I continue on about things that could have been better, I should probably fill you in on the plot (or what is supposed to be the plot).
The movie begins like every other teenage tale, a new boy (Zach) moves to a new town. Surprise! The boy meets his new neighbors only to discover a curmudgeon and his teenage daughter (Hannah) living in a big mysterious house next door. Are you excited yet? The grumpy older man next door wants Zach to stay away from his precious Hannah as well as leave him alone. Of course Zach befriends her and one night he is concerned about her well being and decides to break into his neighbor’s house with his comic relief sidekick by the name of Champ.
Upon entering the house, Zach and Champ discover a bookcase full of Goosebumps manuscripts that are all individually locked. They decide to unlock one and witness the monster that the book is written about come to life. While running they are rescued by Hannah’s dad who is revealed to be the one and only R.L. Stine. He explains the books are locked to protect others from his imagination that have magically come to life. Eventually all of the monsters get out and it is up to Stine and the kids to get them all contained again. That’s basically the movie in a nutshell.
So with the very generic and thinly veiled plot, you can see why my excitement for the film quickly diminished as I was watching this typical Hollywood creation. The high points were of course Jack Black (who also voiced the mischievous Slappy) and getting to see pretty much all of the Goosebumps monsters in one film.
The special effects were great in some parts and generic in others. The way the monsters formed from the words on the page was a very cool effect and possibly the best in the film. There were some laughs and R.L. Stine made a cameo in film, so it wasn’t all bad. I would recommend it if you’re bored and have nothing else to watch or if you have younger kids and need something else besides Home and Frozen to watch on the weekend.