Hot Take: Goosebumps targets kids and the parents who grew up reading and watching Goosebumps. Outside of that demographic, you might feel a little left out. There’s some fun moments but they’re fleeting and it feels a little dated.
Goosebumps answers the question, “What if our childhood came to life and terrorized us until we figure out a way to overcome the real terror of it all?”
Jumanji interrupts, “Hey, Goosebumps, we already did that!”
Zathura chimes in, “And we already copied what Jumanji did!”
“It wasn’t a rip off, it was an homage… and just because we had a wooden character, doesn’t mean you had to, too, Goosebumps” added Zathura director Jon Favreau.
Goosebumps responded, “Yeah, but Slappy is actually a real wooden dummy.”
“So is Kristen Stewart!” yelled Favreau.
Seriously, though. Goosebumps is a nice bit of nostalgia that sticks around about a half hour too long. Jack Black as R.L. Stine felt a little phoned in. The protagonist Zach (Dylan Minnette) and Stine’s daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) have a half-baked love story. It’s recommended to not give the whole relationship much thought afterward because then it just gets weird.
What you came for were the monsters of Goosebumps! The film does it’s best to cram them all in: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, Slappy the Dummy, the Haunted Mask, the Werewolf of Fever Swamp, the Giant Praying Mantis, the Lawn Gnome, Madame Doom, Captain Long Ben One-Leg, the Scarecrows, the Graveyard Ghouls, the Creeps, Court Nightwing, the Swamp Monster, Lord High Executioner, the Mummy of Prince Khor-Ru, the Pumpkinhead, Murder the Clown, Professor Shock, the Muglani Witch Doctor, Cornby the Troll, the Body Squeezers, the Snake Lady, Clarissa the Witch, Fifi the Vampire Poodle, the Invisible Boy, Dr. Brewer’s Mutant Plant, the Haunted Car, the Annihilator 3000s, the Blob Monster, the Bees, the Cuckoo Clock, the Mud Monsters, the Shrunken Head of Baladora, Camp Spirit Moon Ghosts, the Gargoyle and the Centipede. There are also a few mentioned that don’t appear (Cuddles the Hamster) and a few that never make the cut… but you have to save something for the sequel, right?
“Spoiler Free” Pros
- The Nostalgia Factor
If you’re a Goosebumps fan, the reverence the film shows to Stine’s work is evident.
- It’s Kid Friendly
There are a few scary moments but it’s actually not as scary as the old Goosebumps television series.
- The Abominable Snowman and the Werewolf
Both monsters get a little more screen time than many of the others who might be considered more of cameos. Both scenes centered around the Snowman and the Werewolf are fun.
- Spot the R.L. Stine Cameo
“Spoiler Free” Cons
- Franchise Bait
While viewing Goosebumps, it felt like there might be a set up for a sequel… or more! We know if the film is successful, it’s inevitable but is it necessary to telegraph the move so heavily?
- The Gaping Mouth Look
The characters spend a lot of time with their mouths gaping wide because they’re so scared! Again, we get the fear but is it necessary to go so over-the-top?
- It’s Entirely Too Long
Stine receives a writing credit. Does he have such an attachment to his monsters, he strong armed 90% of them in one movie as to not hurt any of their feelings?