Goosebumps

GOOSEBUMPS is a series of children’s horror books from the nineties by R.L. Stine, I read a few of them about ten years ago because someone I was seeing at the time said I would love them, and I did. It went on to become a television show and then a few book spin-off series and is generally regarded as one of the most popular children’s book series’ of all time, selling over 350MIL copies around the world. After years of trying we finally see it adapted for the big screen. At one stage Tim Burton was even on board to make this eighteen years ago, that would have been AMAZING!! Sadly, this is not. GOOSEBUMPS is out this coming Thursday 14th January in Australia from the fine folks at Roadshow Films, who amazingly gave me four tickets to see this with friends at Moonlight Cinemas, in the open air, on a bean bag bed drinking wine and eating New York Chilli Dogs – a PERFECT NIGHT with a sadly average movie unless you are under ten. GOOSEBUMPS is PG and runs for 103mins, but be warned – I went with two nannies and both of them agreed too scary for young kids, hell, my thirty year old friend was losing his shit because there was a clown in the movie :).

 

goosebumps movie poster image
Goosebumps | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Movie Poster Image

 

BY JASON KING

As GOOSEBUMPS is such a large series of books how would they make a GOOSEBUMPS movie? Simple, they make the movie about all the books and the secrets within them. Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mother move into a new town and new house and Zach immediately meets his odd neighbour, Hannah (Odeya Rush) and her creepy mean, somewhat insane father, using a different name but really R.L. Stine (Jack Black). After hearing a disturbance from next door and fearing Hannah is being hurt by her father him, and his very quick new cliched bestie, Champ (Ryan Lee), break in to the house and try to rescue her. They stumble upon all the GOOSEBUMPS manuscripts but they are all locked by a clasp, one thing leads to another and one of the books is opened releasing it’s protagonist, in this case the abominable snowman and from here calamity ensues putting the entire town in danger.

 

goosebumps movie poster image
Goosebumps | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | Zach (Dylan Minnette), Hannah (Odeya Rush) and Champ (Ryan Lee) at the Ice Rink

 

The movie is based on the books and the books are made for pre-teen children (but they can be enjoyed by 30yr old men too :)) and this movie is made for that target audience also. The problem in this is that the film is also quite scary for young children, but I suppose the books were too, really parental advisory by family basis would be needed, you will know if your eight year old child will be scared. The problem I faced was it holds minimal interest for mature adults, I add mature because my friend, the one who was scared of the clown, he loved it :). I was hoping for something Jumanji-ish and the formula for the Goosebump books being opened one after the other would be the same as rolling a dice i.e. what comes next? But the movie failed to achieve this at all and instead settled into cliched and boring rhetoric that plodded along, at times humorous and at other times plain boring.

It does hold a very eighties feel and if this came out around the time of E.T. or GREMLINS it would be a classic but we have seen incredible advancements in cinema and more possibilities over the last twenty years and this movie could have done so much more.

 

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Goosebumps | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | The Main Cast Screaming in a Car

 

The creatures are fun and (as mentioned) at times scary, I loved the Gnomes and (of course), Slappy, the ventriloquist’s dummy (just don’t call him a dummy). The grasshopper giant was good for the car chase but really the others didn’t do much, it was like every single exhibit in NIGHT AT THE MUSEUM came to life but there was so many you never got to spend any time with the individual creatures. Eventually they blurred into themselves, but if you know all the books back to front and grew up reading them you would probably be able to point out all your characters from your favourite books.

As for the acting, lead Dylan Minnette is great as a young action hero in Zack, Odeya Rush is fine as Hannah but these two should never have had a love story, no one will give the slightest of shits about it, no purpose at all, also Zach’s father had passed away but again no major development or purpose for it in the film, did it help R.L. Stine cope with being so lonely? Not really. Special mentions to the two cops, such amazing characters – then why the hell freeze them for the movie by aliens? Those characters could have a movie of their own but nope, they removed them from the film. Timothy Simmons from VEEP and Amanda Lund (SINGLE LIFE and FRESH OFF THE BOAT) own the hilarity of idiot cops – Lund’s opening line had me spit wine on my blanket – not happy Coppa!!!

Jack Black as R.L. Stine, Slappy and The Invisible boy was decent, I failed to like the Stine character, too pompous and for the guy who supposedly wrote the books he knew next to nothing about what to do in resolving everything and Black’s accent, it did my head in! I wanted a more Williams in Jumanji out of him but got a librarian instead. His angry antics and abuse at the start was funny and I loved Black as Slappy, way more suited to himself.

But the actor and character who stole the show for me was Champ (Ryan Lee) – he also stole the show in SUPER 8 when he was about half the size and filled with attitude. Most scenes he was in I laughed at, he was quite a cliched and standard geeky sidekick with limited heroics who comes through at the end and is really smart and wants girls but Lee is such a likeable actor you can’t help but love him. His answer to Stine’s “save yourself” had me in a giggle fit.

 

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Goosebumps | Salty Popcorn Movie Review | R.L. Stine (Jack Black), Hannah (Odeya Rush) and Zach (Dylan Minnette) Escaping the Cemetery

 

Kids will love this and you have a 50/50 chance of enjoying it too. Sadly it let me down and I love kid’s films tremendously. This is director Rob Letterman’s forth film after SHARK TALE, MONSTERS V ALIENS and GULLIVER’S TRAVELS, for me his worst film but apparently I have turned into a grumpy grinch so take your kids to it and let us know what you think. And hey. it’s the holidays and this perfect holiday fodder to shut the kids up for two hours so embrace that and a bucket of popcorn.

 

2 and a Half Pops

 

 

Jason King is the owner and editor of Salty Popcorn and Spooning Australia. He is a movie, food, restaurant, wine, chocolate, bacon, burger and brussels sprouts addict. He is a member of the Film Critics Circle of Australia and has been in the Australian movie industry for 25yrs. He loves watching people trip over and is Leonardo DiCaprio’s biggest fan. All the social media links to the right and up will allow you to abuse, troll or stalk him :).

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.