Combustible Celluloid
 
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With: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Ken Marino, Halston Sage, Steven Krueger, Keith Arthur Bolden, Amanda Lund, Timothy Simons, Karan Soni
Written by: Darren Lemke, based on a story by Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, and on the books by R.L. Stine
Directed by: Rob Letterman
MPAA Rating: PG for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor
Running Time: 103
Date: 10/16/2015
IMDB

Goosebumps (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Frankly Stine Monsters

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Though the books may have thrilled, Goosebumps the movie is less intent on being scary and more focused on fast, loud action, special effects, dorky humor, and a tentative teen romance. Director Rob Letterman previously made the critically-slammed flop Gulliver's Travels — also with Jack Black — and Goosebumps brings that same kind broad, lowbrow approach to the beloved teen horror series.

Teen Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) moves with his single mom (Amy Ryan) from the big city to the small town of Madison, Delaware. Zach doesn't seem to fit in at school (where his mom is vice principal), and the only person he meets is a misfit named Champ (Ryan Lee), who wears a suit and attempts some Abbott-and-Costello-like comic relief.

Zach does connect with his next door neighbor, Hannah (Odeya Rush), who seems to be kept prisoner in her house by her mysterious father (Jack Black). Stuffed into glasses and restrained in a specific role, Black gives one of his more likable performances.

Investigating, Zach and Champ discover that her father is R.L. Stine, the famous author of the Goosebumps series. Unfortunately, they also discover a series of locked, original manuscripts that, once opened, release real live monsters into the world. Among them is the worst monster of all: Slappy.

It's all rather graceless, and yet it has a certain kind of good cheer. It harks back to a time when monsters were the main draw of scary movies, and young viewers could test themselves by sitting through them, all the while secretly loving them. Monster fans of today will have fun identifying their favorites as they flit by in cameos, although the movie is too awkward and overwhelming in general to feel old-fashioned.

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