This weeks movie choice was the film adaptation of the popular children’s book series, Goosebumps by R.L Stine. I am writing this blog as someone who has never read one of these books so am unable to tell you if its faithful to these.
The film is directed by Rob (Shark Tale; Monsters vs. Aliens) Letterman and reteams him with the star of his last film, Gulliver’s Travels from with Jack (School of Rock) Black.
The story centres around Zach (Dylan Minnette) who with his mum Gale (Amy Ryan, who we recognised as Holly Flax from TV’s the American Office) have moved to Delaware following the death of his father.
Zach strikes up a friendship with his mysterious home school educated neighbour, Hannah (Odeya Rush) and her possessive & mysterious father, who we learn is actually the horror writer R.L. Stine (Jack Black)
When Zach hears a scream next door, he enlists his new friend Champ (Ryan Lee) and enters the house to find out what is going on. Within the house, they find the manuscripts of all the popular Goosebumps books, however, upon trying to read them, they find the pages to be locked up.
Champ challenges Zach to open one of the books, which he does! We learn from Hannah, arriving on the scene to find the 2 boys, that this is bad! Opening the book releases the creatures from the pages, in this instance The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.
The Snowman causes havoc, breaking the shelving unit that contains all the manuscripts, including one which releases evil ventriloquist dummy Slappy (who for me, looks a lot like British comic Jimmy Carr!)
The 3 Child friends hunt the Snowman down to an Ice Rink, where they hope to get close enough to return the creature back to the pages of the book, With the help of Stine, in a scene which reminded me of the trapping of Slimer in the original Ghostbusters.
Slappy (voiced by Jack Black as well) takes the role of the leader and releases all the books monsters, including a Praying Mantis; A clown; A Werewolf; An Invisible Boy (also voiced by Jack Black); Aliens; Gnomes and even a Vampire Poodle!
We learn that these monsters are all created by Stine on an old typewriter, which is now kept in the local school. Stine believes if he can write an original new Goosebumps book on this typewriter, he can return the monsters back to the pages.
The monsters head to the school to destroy the typewriter so the race is on.
Whilst this all sounds exciting, I found the film to be incredibly average, great special effects but the script is not brilliant. I found the film took far too long to get started and then it feels incredibly rushed.
I do really like Jack Black, he really is a great guy, having met him at a Tenacious D concert, so it is a shame he is not given a real chance to shine in this film, which instead centres on the child stars and the issues they are going through as teenagers.
The film hopes to be another Jumanji with the eighties feel of The Goonies but feels more like another Inkheart, the Brendan Fraser film, which also concerns pages of a book coming to life.
In my opinion, the film has the same issue of the adaptation of Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, in that rather than concentrate on one of the books, it tries to combine many. Which means some characters get more screen time than others. Luckily, Slappy is one of the better creations.
I found the ending also not brilliant, it seemed a bit easy given the struggle we saw the heroes catch the Snowman earlier on in the film.
The film also doesn’t really know if it wants scares or laughs. Tim Burton was attached to direct at one point and I’m sure it may have been a lot different instead this is a watchable run of the mill kids film.
If the film encourages its target young audience to read a Goosebumps book then that can be only a good thing but as is so often the case, a great cast and characters with excellent special effects do not make for an excellent movie without a great script!
Are you a Goosebumps fan? Did you like the movie? What would you like to see if they did a sequel? We at Barking Mad About Films we would love to hear from you
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