Review: ‘Goosebumps’ Is a Harmless Homage to Lovable Source Material

goosebumps review

Goosebumps was directed by Rob Letterman and written by Darren Lemke, Scott Alexander, and Larry Karaszewski. It stars Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, and Odeya Rush. And it’s also based on the bestselling book series written by R.L. Stine.

The film fittingly begins exactly like a Goosebumps story with an unassuming protagonist in a small town who stumbles upon a creepy mystery when he moves to Madison, Delaware with his mother, played by Amy Ryan.

He later finds a bookshelf of Goosebumps manuscripts written by the actual R.L. Stine, who is played by Jack Black. We learn that when a book is opened, the monsters inside instantly turn to life, and the movie becomes a who’s who of Goosebumps favorites rampaging a cardboard cutout setting. Stine himself actually has a cameo toward the end of the film that’s mildly amusing, though pretty overt.

That’s definitely the best way to put Goosebumps, as it has less subtlety than even longtime fans would expect. It has plenty of clever moments sprinkled throughout a gracious script, but it executes all of them in predictable fashion. You can see the end of almost every scene coming, and the film certainly tries to make you laugh more often than it succeeds.

goosebumps review

As a children’s film, this isn’t a death sentence. Goosebumps is enough fun to keep kids of most ages entertained, and it’s even a good time for adults (more so if they’re already fans of the books). Nothing in the movie is truly terrible, though you may cringe once or twice as each character vies for your attention, with the slight (and I mean slight) exception of the film’s main villain, of whom I won’t spoil.

Grade: C+

It’s definitely a movie I wouldn’t mind seeing again on the small screen a few years down the road. And if I ever have kids who grow up with the books, this is a movie I’ll probably introduce to them, as well. By then, I suspect the CGI will be dated enough to warrant some unintentional laughs in hindsight.

If you’ve seen Goosebumps, let me know your thoughts in the comments. And be sure to check out our podcast review coming this Sunday, where we’ll talk about the film in more detail.

I’m Jon and thanks for reading this. You can subscribe to my posts by clicking “Follow” in the right sidebar. Or just say hey on Twitter! @JonNegroni

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