There is always a bit of nostalgia for everything that has to do with the ’90s. “Goosebumps,” the book series by R.L. Stine is just one of them. And for someone such as myself who grew up on these books, there’s a wariness when it comes to bringing an original adaptation to the big screen. Sure, there was the very cheesy, but scary enough for kids show some twenty or so years ago, but each episode was usually an adaptation of one of the books already written, “Night in Terror Tower” being a favorite among them. So what happens when director Rob Letterman (Monsters vs. Aliens, Shark Tale) and writer Darren Lemke (Jack the Giant Slayer, Turbo) come together to go meta and put R.L. Stine in an original tale involving his books? We get Goosebumps, a cheesy, nostalgic, but fun film that is anchored by Jack Black as Stine.
Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his mom (Amy Ryan) have just moved to a town in Delaware from New York City. Zach’s dad died the year before and the pair of them need a fresh start. Not having any friends and slightly mortified that he has to go to the same school where his mom has a new job as vice principal, Zach befriends his next door neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush) and fellow classmate Champ (Ryan Lee). Zach is weirded out by Hannah’s dad (Jack Black), a recluse and loner who doesn’t want to be bothered–and for good reason. When the three teens accidentally set loose a creature straight out of a “Goosebumps” book, they need the help of author R.L. Stine to stop all the creepy characters from escaping their book bindings and terrorizing the town.
It’s been a while since a film came along that was equal parts campy and fun. Goosebumps is sure to target a certain demographic and gift them with nostalgia, while still taking the time to make it a fun family film that kids of this generation can also enjoy. As far as many are concerned, R.L. Stine’s books are still popular enough and own a place in the creepy storytelling for youth section of the library (or e-library, if you so prefer).
The film is filled with cheesy humor and Dylan Minnette as Zach is very tolerable and likable as a character. However, it’s Jack Black as Stine who steals the show. Black takes advantage of the fact that he can be completely ridiculous and runs with it. Black’s interpretation of R.L. Stine is not meant to be a biographical one, but the exaggerated version, and Black nails it. Goosebumps isn’t particularly a must-see, but if you are so inclined to be entertained and have some fun with creatures that once belonged only in books, then this film might be exactly what you’re looking for.