Friday, June 2, 2017


Another chance to do a regular review on a film I originally reviewed when it premiered. Looking back at my original review, I don't really disagree with anything I said. In fact, I consider this an extension of that review, so I find myself talking a lot about the characters. I still feel I would have been happier with an anthology. However, in re-watching I find myself warming to this interpretation.

It's clear that, while this isn't my vision of a Goosebumps film, it was someone’s. The acting is solid, the story is well-written, and the humor is actually funny. I really feel like the people behind this movie came into it giving their all, and determined to produce a film that children and adults could both enjoy.

I mentioned that the protagonists of this film were much better developed than most Goosebumps heroes and heroines. I still stand by that. They fall into general stereotypes, but not painfully so. Jack Black is the arrogant author as R.L. Stine, but his dialogue is absolutely hilarious. Odeya Rush, as Stine's daughter Hannah, is a clever, funny female character, who is annoyed by chauvinistic attempts to protect her, while avoiding Mary Sue status. Ryan Lee is absolutely hilarious as Champ (real name “Champion”), the overconfident nerd dragged into this mess by our hero, who at times seems to forget he's supposed to be afraid while facing down the monsters from his childhood.

And then we have the aforementioned hero, Zach (Dylan Minnette). He's probably the least interesting of the main cast, but manages to keep his character diverse and active enough to avoid seeming superfluous. The film makes it clear he's generally familiar with the Goosebumps series, but isn't especially nerdy, so he walks a line between the jock and the nerd hero. His romance with Hannah seems natural enough, and the two have decent chemistry.

As an aside I should also mention Jillian Bell as Zach's Aunt Lorraine, who's in relatively little of the movie, but strikes up a romance with Stine. I wasn't familiar with Bell, but she left me wanting more. She plays that energetic, clumsy aunt, that remains lovable, even while embarrassing her nephew.

At this point the twist of the story is fairly well-known: Hannah was the titular character from The Ghost Next Door, who Stine brought into the real world to fight off loneliness. When Stine and Zach realize the only way to trap the monsters is to write a story containing all of them (the very adventure they're living), they're forced to write the story with Hannah, and trap her with all of Stine's other creations. However, Stine writes a final story with Hannah, freeing her, and burning the book to keep her from being sent back.

Re-watching this movie gives me hope for the sequel that's supposedly in development. I don't know what they'll do now that virtually every major Goosebumps villain has been used in this film's mob, but I've heard that it could be Horrorland. Whatever it is, I really want to see these characters again. It's likely that the readers of this already know more about the project, as I'm writing it in January 2016, and don't expect it to go up until sometime in 2017. Whatever the news is, I hope it's good.

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