Tuesday, October 27, 2015

As Expected, ‘Goosebumps’ Is Dumb and Campy but Also Extremely Enjoyable

Goosebumps is based on the fantastic children’s book series of the same name written by R.L. Stine.  It isn’t an adaptation of any of the stories in the anthology, but a stand-alone story that centers on a fictionalized R.L. Stine.  In the movie’s universe, Stine (Jack Black) has the ability to bring to life the monsters that he writes, which he keeps locked up within their respective Goosebumps manuscripts.  However, due to the meddling of two teenage friends, Zach (Dylan Minnette) and Champ (Ryan Lee) – after erroneously believing that Stine’s daughter, Hannah (Odeya Rush), is in trouble – the Goosebumps monsters are set loose in the town of Madison.

Right from the start, I felt that this movie was going to be dumb and campy, and such presumption was only enforced when I saw the trailers.  However, there was something about it that made me look forward to watching it.  It felt that no matter how dumb and campy it would be, I would still find it enjoyable.  I loved Goosebumps when I was a kid, so it probably appealed to my nostalgic tastes.

The movie turned out to be exactly as I was expecting it.  Holes can be easily punched through its flawed plot, the script lacks sophistication, and the third act is moderately dragged down by hackneyed plot elements.  I really wish the story was written better and has more depth and is more clever and creative.  I was also a bit disappointed that some monsters that I wanted to see aren’t included in the movie (or if they’re there, I missed seeing them because they only had quick cameos).  But most importantly, I’m not satisfied with the plot twist.  Goosebumps stories are known for having the best plot twists this side of the Twilight Zone, and the movie doesn’t have anything like that.

However, those said, I had a great time watching the movie.  It sustains a fulfilling ambiance of fun from start to finish.  I was pleased to see those Goosebumps monsters banding together on screen; back then, the only time I saw all those Goosebumps monsters together are on promotional artworks.  I also appreciate the R.L. Stine cameo – that’s a classy way of fan-servicing.  Above all, it’s quite hilarious, all thanks to the actors’ effective delivery of witty dialogue and slapstick humor (especially during the first two-thirds of the movie).

Goosebumps could have been done better.  But though it has an overall sense of missed opportunities, it’s still mightily enjoyable, especially to those who grew up reading the books.

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