Based on the best-selling book series, Goosebumps is about a boy named Zach (Dylan Minette) who moves to a new town with his mother. He soon meets his next-door neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush), whose father turns out to be none other than the reclusive author of the Goosebumps books, R.L. Stine (Jack Black). After a short series of events, Zach and his friend Champ (Ryan Lee) unlock a manuscript of a Goosebumps book – specifically “The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena.” No big deal, right? Wrong. The abominable snowman is a real monster, and he comes to life when the book is opened. And so do all the other Goosebumps monsters.
Goosebumps‘ main young cast of Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, and Ryan Lee is great, and they really bring life to the movie. Minnette and Rush had great chemistry, while Lee was funny and less irritating than I had first expected. Main man Jack Black also surpassed my expectations as R.L. Stine. His presence on screen was always enjoyable, even if his acting was a bit over the top at times. Despite a few jokes that made me roll my eyes – specifically a twerking reference and a fart joke – the movie was genuinely funny. Jillian Bell did a great job as Zach’s aunt and offered quite a bit of comic relief. Timothy Simons and Amanda Lund also stole their short scenes in the film as local police officers.
The film is funnier than it is scary, as there aren’t too many frightening scenes. The creepiest monster, Slappy, an evil ventriloquist dummy, was voiced by Jack Black. I was a big Goosebumps fan as a kid and Slappy always gave me nightmares, but he was still my favorite villain. Because of this, my expectations for him were high. And thanks to Black and puppeteer Avery Jones, my expectations were met. Slappy had a great presence on screen, bringing both laughs and mild frights.
One of my main gripes about the film is that they did not show a lot of the monsters. There were a few shots of all of the monsters moving as a group, but it was impossible to see them all. The movie focuses on a few of the monsters as main villains and the others are all just pushed to the background with little to no screen time. I saw more of the monsters in promotional pictures for the film than I had seen in the movie itself. Hopefully, the filmmakers use these lesser used monsters in the sequel, which is reportedly being drafted by Sony Pictures.