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Goosebumps: Movie Review

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GB1Teenage Zach (Dylan Minnetee) and his mother move away from the hustle and bustle of New York City a year after his father dies. Sleepy and quaint Madison, Delaware seems like the perfect place to get a fresh start. Things seem off to a good start when Zach meets his beautiful new neighbor Hannah (Odeya Rush) and the two seem to hit it off instantly. Hannah’s father however, immediately steps in and attempts to put an end to their friendship, warning Zach that bad things will happen to him if he continues to attempt to see her. When Zach hears what sounds like a domestic dispute between Hannah and her father, he calls the police who are unable to find any evidence that Hannah even exists, and the adventure beings. Zach and his new sidekick Champ (Ryan Lee), break into the house and find Hannah, but not before they manage to unlock one of many locked leather bound books sitting on an imposing bookcase and freeing the title monster from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps: The Abominable Snowman of Pasadena. By the time that Hannah and her father, author R.L. Stine (Jack Black), manage to capture the Abominable Snowman and explain what is going on to Zach and Champ, Slappy the ventriloquist’s dummy from Goosebumps: Night of the Living Dummy has escaped his leather bound prison as well. Hell bent on getting revenge on his creator, Slappy steals the remaining locked books and sets off across the town unleashing the creatures within them and burning the books so that they can’t be put back. It’s up to Zach, Hannah and Champ to help R.L. Stein find a way to defeat his creations and save the town.
GB3Goosebumps plot is more concerned with finding a way to cram over 100 different monsters into its story than it is with the story itself. But that actually works to its benefit. The only way to stuff this film full of monsters is to combine the fictitious world of R.L. Stein’s books with the authors “real” life. When his monsters literally spring forth into the real world escaping their paper prisons, the author must come up with a way to send them back into the fictional world where they belong. It’s a great device because not only does it allow for satirizing the nature of written fiction in general, but it directly mocks the formulaic assembly line-like production process that was the Goosebumps literary franchise. The plot contains equal parts silly monsters, inept small town police officials, predictable twists, adolescent love interests, and goofy sidekicks; the very structure that comprised almost every single goosebumps book in the series. That’s a pretty clever way to poke fun at itself for the enjoyment of those of us who hold fond memories of the books for playing a part in our early childhood reading development.

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I was a big fan of the Goosebumps books when I was in elementary school. I had grown out of them by the time the television show aired but I still look back on them fondly. That being said I wasn’t as rabid of a fan going into this film as I can sometimes be, so I guess I didn’t really have any expectations for it and I was pleasantly surprised by it. It’s a fun movie, and reminded me of how much I used to love those books before I moved onto and became obsessed with more intense and adult horror literature and cinema. This film reminded me of a time when movies like Hocus Pocus, Ernest Scared Stupid, The Addams Family, and The Witches were considered mandatory viewing in the days leading up to Halloween. (Those are all still considered mandatory viewing, I just mix in R-rated films amongst them now)GB4
It’s a fun movie that everyone can enjoy. The kid’s will enjoy Jack Black’s dramatic overacting, Ryan Lee’s goofy sidekick character Champ’s antics, and of course the not too scary monsters. Adults will get a kick out of the literary device mockery, some more adult oriented jokes, and a decent balance between practical effects and CGI in the monster design, and book lovers will no doubt appreciate that the film main theme lies in the old adage that the pen is mightier than the sword.

Goosebumps (2015)
Director:  Rob Letterman
Studio:  Sony Pictures
Genre:  Family, Comedy, Suspense
MPAA:  PG
Release Date:  October 16th, 2015
Author:  Angela Colgan
Angela Colgan Angela Colgan is a San Diego native who recently graduated from college with a double major in Visual Arts Media with a film emphasis and History with an emphasis in war, revolution, and social change. She is currently employed at a local start up video production company, working on a few short online comedy series’ that will eventually launch on their own internet television website. A fan of movies since a very early age, Angela has been appreciating, arguing about, and reviewing films amongst family and friends her entire life, often much to their annoyance. A fan of all genres of film, she is particularly a fan of old movie classics, horror films in all of their different manifestations, and one-liner filled action romps from the late 1980’s and early 90’s. She hopes to work in the commercial film industry in the near future in either post-production editing, or sound design.

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