October 28, 2015
I have seen "Goosebumps" books on display during Scholastic book sales. This is a series of children's horror fiction stories by R.L. Stine published in the 1990s. My kids never thought of buying them, so I also have not read them myself. This year, the "Goosebumps" books get the movie treatment. The fun trailer suggests that it should be very interesting viewing for the Halloween season this week.
Zach with his mom Gale moved into a small sleepy town of Madison in Delaware from New York City. He made friends with the pretty girl Hannah next door. However, Hannah's strict dad would hear nothing being chummy with neighbors and was apparently beating her. One night, together with new friend Champ, Zach broke into Hannah's house in an attempt to rescue the girl from her dad. However, the locked Goosebumps books in the living room bookcase were opened, unleashing every monster known to terrorize and wreak havoc on the town. Zach had to team up with Hannah's dad to get those monsters under control.
Jack Black is right in his element here in the role of the over-protective father with a deep dark secret. He is the only big name in the cast and he does not disappoint in his wacky performance. Later in the closing credits, I would find out that it was also Black who would voice a couple of memorable monsters in the books, namely the sinister Slappy, the evil ventriloquist dummy, and the naughty Invisible Kid.
Zach and Hannah were played by teenage newcomers Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush respectively. Minnette had that boy-next-door look, charming and wholesome. His acting was very natural and effortless in his first major film role. Rush is a pretty face and good actress. I have seen her previously in another young adult film "The Giver" where she showed promise as an actress. She should be someone to reckon with in the future. Minnette and Rush look good together, and they have very good chemistry together.
Minette also has very good chemistry with Ryan Lee, the actor who played the goofy nerdy friend, Champ. Their scenes when they were trying to break into Hannah's house were really sidesplitting hilarious. The last time I saw this actor it was in "Super 8". With the way he looks, it seems he may be stuck in sidekick or best friend roles for a while.
While the comedy was very good, the best reasons to see this film are the special visual monster effects interacting seamlessly with the human actors. The very first monster to come out of the book was a giant one right away, the Abominable Snowman. Much later, all mayhem will break loose, and all the monsters will be released from their books. We will get extended views of the fast and furious Werewolf, the destructive Giant Preying Mantis, and the pesky Garden Gnomes, which were all very well-executed.
Overall, this film was very entertaining, a lot of laughs to be had. The scare level is just mild, as it was tempered by the film's sense of humor. Watch out for the cameo of "Goosebumps" author R.L. Stine in the school as a teacher. This is highly recommended as the perfect Halloween film for the whole family to enjoy together. 8/10.