[Movie Review] ‘Goosebumps’ Is Slappy’s Revenge
For an entire generation, the young adult Goosebumps novels by R.L. Stine and the popular TV show they inspired served the doorway to a larger adult world of creepy monsters, killer dolls, and demented gnomes, all of which are brought lovingly to life for a new generation in the colorful movie expansion of the popular series.
In classic Stine style, the story is that of a likable “new kid” just recently relocated with his mom to a new town where he finds himself instantly attracted to the cute girl next door, though her intense dad makes it clear very early on that she is off limits, of course making her that much more attractive to young our hero.
It is soon enough revealed that the dad, played by Jack Black (School of Rock), is actually the author R.L. Stine himself, in hiding and somewhat bitter that he has sold more books than Stephen King but is not as respected. When Stine’s sealed manuscripts of classic (real life) stories he published years ago are accidentally opened, all of the nightmares contained within are brought to life and allowed to roam the real word, setting the action off at a frantic pace.
Many of Stine’s most beloved creations are featured, some only in brief cameos in the background, but it is absolutely the evil puppet known as Slappy who takes center stage, attempting to enact a plan of revenge against his “papa” Stine for imprisoning him within the pages of fiction.
Black brings his typical manic mannerisms while channeling somewhat more cerebral approach to his portrayal of the iconic Stine, and newcomer Dylan Minnette is a future action star in the making as the new kid in town who now must save it.
Odeya Rush, playing Stine’s forbidden daughter, also displays a charisma and natural presence that undoubtedly make her Hollywood’s “It Girl” of the moment in a few years.
Ryan Lee plays the school outcast who quickly latches on to Minnette’s new kid, showing off an easy rhythm as they frantically try to put a new story together that will put the monsters back where they belong.
Amy Ryan, who was so hilarious on NBC’s The Office, is unfortunately stuck in a much safe mom mode as Minnette’s single parent, while the great Ken Marino is funny but vastly underused as a horny gym coach awkwardly attracted to Ryan’s new high school teacher.
With lots of nods to the classic books and just enough scares to keep younger kids enthralled in terror, the Goosebumps movie is a satisfyingly fun spin on familiar themes, and the season’s wildest family-friendly ride.
Official Rating: 4 out of 5 Stars
Reviewed by: Matt Artz
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Goosebumps (rated PG13) is now playing at R/C KDH Movies 10 in Kill Devil Hills.