Friday, May 27, 2016

Family Movie Night: GOOSEBUMPS

Welcome to a new installment of FAMILY MOVIE NIGHT, where we give our recommendation on a family-friendly movie to enjoy.  This week we review the 2015 horror comedy...GOOSEBUMPS.

R.L. Stine's beloved children's horror series, Goosebumps, was one of my favorite book series, and is one that I read every single story.  I even watched the television series from the 90's.  So, as you can imagine, when I heard that a Goosebumps feature film was in the works, I got super excited.

This film, however, is not what you might expect from a Goosebumps film.  Instead of taking a specific story and giving it life on the screen, like the television series did, the Rob Letterman-directed film goes the meta route, making the books and their author the center of this tale.  The film tells the story of Zach Cooper, a young guy who is upset after moving from the big city to a small town with his mother. While moving in, Zach meets his new neighbor Hannah, who's mysterious father, he soon discovers is the legendary author of the infamous Goosebumps book series, R.L. Stine.  Then, when Zach accidentally unleashes the monsters trapped inside the original book's manuscripts, it's up to him, his friend Champ, Hannah, and her father to return the beasts back to the books where they belong.

As I said, this film was directed by Rob Letterman, who directed the animated films Shark Tale and Monsters vs. Aliens and also directed the live-action adaptation of Gulliver's Travels also starring Jack Black.  Letterman is also slated to direct the upcoming reboot of Dungeons & Dragons from Warner Bros.  This film seemed like the perfect fit for this director, and after watching it, I was right.

I really enjoy this meta take on the franchise I loved as a kid, getting to see several of the creatures from books, such as the Werewolf of Fever Swamp, the army of deadly Lawn Gnomes, and of course, the ever-creepy living dummy Slappy.  Jack Black, who played the best-selling author and mysterious recluse, R.L. Stine, was perfect for this role.  He played a wonderfully exaggerated version of the man who wrote my favorite childhood books, and gave the perfect amount of humor to this somewhat dark story.  He is joined by Dylan Minnette (Prisoners) as Zach Cooper, the unwitting new neighbor to Black's Stine.  I thought he gave a good performance and can't wait to see what he does next.

Some of the things I loved about this film were the direct references to the books by way of some of the most iconic creatures from the series.  Seeing them take life on the big screen using today's technology was wonderful.  The only thing I wish they could've done differently would be to give some of the other monsters more screen time, but with so many there, it would have been difficult.  That is why I hope they do make a second film, but instead of being a straight sequel, make it like a Tales From The Crypt-style anthology film, with Slappy as the Cryptkeeper-type character, telling a series of monster stories from the book series, and maybe even some new tales.

If you're looking for a fun movie to watch with the family this weekend, I definitely recommend checking out Goosebumps, and if you have Netflix you're in luck, because it's currently streaming.

The Merc's Score: 8/10

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