By: Mike Agostinelli
Global phenomenons are a funny thing. They seem to sprout in the least likely of places. Tickle me Elmo, Tamagotchis, Beanie Babies….they spring up randomly and without warning, and then go away just as quickly. Goosebumps was one of these said phenomenons. When I was a kid, there was a massive hunger for these books. We would trade them like they were currency, discuss them like they were the latest hot TV show (until it actually became the latest hot TV show), and speculate how the latest books final twist would come about. But then one day they simply stopped being cool, the show got canceled, and I went back to loving Batman. Thankfully, we now have a Goosebumps movie to remind me why I loved these stupid books to begin with.
Goosebumps is a rare film in that it leans on nostalgia but isn’t entirely reliant on it. It forges it’s own path while also honoring the source material it’s based on in unique and entertaining ways. It honestly shouldn’t be as good as it is, especially since Jack Black is in it. He plays the book series’ author, R.L. Stine, with a raspy voice and a temperamental disposition. He has essentially locked his daughter in their house and refuses to let her leave. Naturally, curiosity takes over on her part, especially when a new boy moves in next door who intrigues her. One late night sneak-out visit to an abandoned carnival in the woods with this said boy leads to a burgeoning, slightly forced teen romance. Upon their return, the girl gets caught and chastised by her father, maybe a bit too much. This leads to the boy sneaking in Stines house and accidentally unleashing a slew of old Goosebumps book monsters, leading to an hour of PG-friendly but yet still not massively corny thrills and chills.
This movie is going to make a poop ton of money. It’s coming out at a prime time of year for something like this, and has the distinction of being able to cater to twenty-somethings like me who grew up with the series as well as the young-ins who just like Halloween and monsters. Its only misstep is that it doesn’t actually take place during Halloween, instead setting it inexplicably in September. It also veers into cheese territory a few times, especially with the slightly annoying sidekick our main dude has throughout the film, who constantly screams like a woman and whines for a majority of the film. But then the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena goes on a rampage while the Wolfman invades a grocery store and the Cuckoo Clock of Doom shows up in the background and all worries are replaced with pleasure.
One other complaint I suppose I should make is that the score by Danny Elfman is very reminiscent of every score he has ever done. It literally almost sounds like they took the Nightmare Before Christmas score, mashed it with Sleepy Hollow, Batman, and Beetlejuice and then displayed it as something new. I think it’s safe to say that Elfman is slowly losing his edge. Honestly can’t really hold it against the guy too much though, as he’s produced almost a half of cinemas most enduring and catchy themes.
If you’ve read the books or seen the show, definitely see Goosebumps. If not, still definitely see Goosebumps. Contagious fun like this is hard to come by these days, especially at such a high quality. Nonsense like Hotel Transylvania shouldn’t make naerly as much money as it does when stuff like this is out.
I give Goosebumps an 8 out of 10.
I’ll be back in three weeks with a review of the new James Bond film, Spectre.