140 Character Movie Review – #140RVW
Never read the books and I’m not the target audience, but I thought it was a great scarefest for kids and funny enough for their parents…
Spoiler-free Movie Review of Goosebumps:
I don’t like being scared. I really don’t. I’m a great big coward about scary movies & books, and if I ever go missing, don’t waste time looking for me at a haunted house because I’d die on the front step before ever entering. But I thought I could probably handle a kids scary movie. At least if my daughter went with me and we could hold hands…
The relationship of kids and fear is fascinating. I remember when the whole Goosebumps phenomenon hit in the 90’s (when I was well outside of the target demographic); I was mystified that kids would willingly read books meant to scare them. I had always assumed that everyone was as much of a wuss as me, despite a childhood full of evidence that I was a grade A wimp.
I’m certain much better read scholars can explain all of the sociological and developmental factors at work better than I. All I know is kids need to learn to face their fears and scary stories are an entirely healthy way to do so. Probably. I’m still not watching The Exorcist to find out if that’s true, though…
I like Jack Black and the trailers looked good, so we headed into the local theater to be scared. (Not in 3D, though. No way…)
The premise for the Goosebumps film is really quite clever; author R.L. Stine came up with all these monsters as a coping mechanism as an unhappy kid. He put so much of himself into it they became real to him, then actually became real. Since then, he’s been keeping the monsters literally locked in the manuscripts of the stories he wrote. Of course they escape, raise heck (it is a kids movie, after all) and people learn valuable life lessons.
Screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski came up with the great story concept that provides a vehicle for introducing as many characters from the book/tv series as they want and have time for. Makes for a rich movie, if a bit overcrowded. Darren Lemke would write the script that pulled it all together. Not sure who had the idea about providing a backstory for Stine, but while it may sound hokey, it really works very well and provides a great structure for the tale.
The CG effects are ok, but no better than they need to be. One of the five (?!) production companies behind the film is actually Sony Pictures Animation, which should give you some indication of just how heavily they’d be relying on CG.
Some of the Goosebumps monsters are creepy, some are funny; none seem to be terrifying. I can certainly imagine some kids having nightmares. I don’t really need to speculate too much – I saw one parent leading her crying kids out of the picture after the first big bad hit the town. To be fair, I think they were a bit young to be there – most of the kids in the audience seemed to be having a great time. Be advised, though, while as usual your mileage may vary, know your kid – on the big screen some of the characters were definite nightmare fuel, particularly the main baddie, a ventriloquist dummy.
The acting is fun, with Black hamming it up in several roles and affecting an odd but effective accent for his turn as the children’s author. The teens mostly look like believable teenagers, and the lead trio of Dylan Minnette (Zach), Odeya Rush (Hannah) and Ryan Lee (Champ) work very well. The usually enjoyable Ken Marino is in the film for no reason I can detect.
Danny Elfman provided the score, reflecting the film’s obvious aim for a perfect balance of funny and scary. In my opinion they got the balance right, but I’m sure there are those who find Black’s overacting irritating; probably the long-time book fans.
Goosebumps is exactly what it tries to be – a Halloween styled funny movie, scary enough to provide genuine thrills, but not enough to make older kids actually terrified. Their younger siblings may not see much of the film hiding behind the seats, though…Recommended.
- Tim Burton tried to produce a Goosebumps film way back in 1998.
- R.L. Stine created the magazine Bananas? I totally forgot about Bananas; we used to order that through school book fairs! He also wrote for Dynamite, another lunchroom fave…
The Representation Test Score: B (7 pts)
|Main Cast||Jack Black R. L. Stine/Slappy/Invisible Boy (voice)
Dylan Minnette Zach
Odeya Rush Hannah
Ryan Lee Champ
|Release Date||Fri 16 Oct 2015 UTC|
|Genres||Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Horror|
|Plot||A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R.L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Greendale, Maryland.|
|Tagline||The stories are alive|
|Writers||Darren Lemke (screenplay), Scott Alexander (story) …|