Let me begin by saying that if you were looking for a movie to bring back memories of your childhood’s late night reads of the beloved children’s series Goosebumps by R. L. Stine, this is not the movie for you.
Goosebumps contains all of the traits of a cliché teen action film: a new, but hopefully rising star, young actor in the lead (Dylan Minnette), his love interest that of course has complications (Odeya Rush), and a predictable plot line. None of it will leave you wondering what is actually going on in your basement.
The film contained none of the trademark twists and turns that 90’s children grew to love in the books and later the television series. Instead, it attempted to appeal to a new audience, today’s pre-teens, by having a typical teenage love story that is forbidden by the parents paired with a high school dance gone wrong because of a nosy teenager. The only resemblance that it holds to the books are the monsters.
The monsters released are all from the books, but they do not have their plot lines, plot twists, or backstory. To a person who had never read the books, it would appear as if the monsters were just that – Monsters. Unlike the books and show, the monsters served no purpose other than to attack RL Stine (Jack Black). There was no moral, no lesson learned. Perhaps the film should be renamed so that it does not mislead people into thinking it will play out like an episode of Goosebumps from twenty years ago.
With that said, the film did contain great comedy. When it was funny, it was really funny. Jillian Bell and Ryan Lee, who were the primary sources of humor, enhanced the film. Their acting overshadowed the stagnant roles of the lead characters. Without them, it would have been film of teenagers and one adult, running away helplessly from monsters. Director Rob Letterman managed to get in a few good jump scares throughout the movie to vaguely remind you that you are watching a thriller and not an action movie.
It was a decent movie. It was fun and contained the occasional laugh, but overall it was disappointing. Gone were the center pieces of the books and shows that I loved that made them great. Goosebumps has succumbed to pressure to appeal to an audience that did not grow up with the books. Changes had to be made in order for the new audience to like the film, but at a cost that took away from the people who did grow up with it. The title is misleading and, unfortunately, the comedy cannot make up for a lackluster plot. The trailers promised a revival, but that was not the product.
My Rating: ★★☆☆☆ (2.5/5)
Still not convinced? Here’s the trailer for you to watch:
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