‘Goosebumps’ film is a mediocre rendition of a childhood favorite

By Lisa Nault
Staff Writer

Director Rob Letterman’s new feature film “Goosebumps” has several problems but is, for the most part, harmless.

“Goosebumps” follows the story of Zach, who has just moved to the small town of Madison, Delaware, with his mother. He is coping with the loss of his father, the new environment, and odd next-door neighbors. A mysterious girl named Hannah lives next door and has a possessive father who does not want Zach to speak to his daughter.

Obviously this man is the famous “Goosebumps” author R.L. Stine. He is played by Jack Black. Some people find Jack Black’s over-acting to be charming while other people find it simply annoying. If you have liked Jack Black in other films you will probably find him entertaining. However, if you do not like his style, there is no way of escaping it in this film.

The main conflict arises when the teens open a book and the Abominable Snowman comes to life off of the pages. Here lies one of the film’s many plot holes. The teens had to unlock the book manually and open it in order to set the creature free. However, when they run out of the room, another book unlocks itself and opens—releasing a ventriloquist dummy named Slappy.

It is Slappy’s release that causes the rest of the movie’s conflicts to occur. If Slappy had not escaped his book, there would be no movie. No other book could have opened by themselves, so why did Slappy’s book? There is no reason, and the movie expects the audience to not think about it too hard and just accept it.

Another issue with the film is the cliche nature of Zach and Hannah’s relationship. A cute new boy in town and a cute, aloof neighbor—of course the two of them will end up in a relationship. There is very little chemistry between them, which the movie tries to make up for by giving them slightly witty banter.

The third teen in the movie, named Champion, Champ for short, is the most pointless character I have seen in a children’s movie in a long time. He is there for comic relief but is not funny. He makes obvious jokes, does nothing to help stop the creatures, and constantly bothers the other characters. Champ could have not been in the film at all and it would have  been better as a result.

To the film’s credit, there was a clever cameo of the real R.L. Stine at the end of the movie. In fact, the highlight of the film is the ending. The end credits are of the classic “Goosebumps” covers and created the most nostalgic feelings in the audience. The viewers got to move through the wonderfully saturated and odd worlds R.L. Stine has created.

“Goosebumps” had some cute moments and was entertaining for a 1-hour-and-43-minute film. Is it perfect? — far from it. Should it be avoided at all costs? No. It is not worth spending money to see it on the big screen, but it is fine to watch at home when you just want to watch something simple and nostalgic.