Monday, October 17, 2016

Goosebumps (2015)

Number Rolled: 72
Movie Name/Year: Goosebumps (2015)
Tagline: The stories are alive.
Genre: Comedy, Family, Adventure
Length: 103 minutes
Rating: PG
Production Companies: Columbia Pictures, LStar Capital, Original Film, Scholastic Entertainment, Sony Pictures Animation, Village Roadshow Pictures
Producer: Bill Bannerman, Greg Basser, Greg Baxter, Bruce Berman, Deborah Forte, Tania Landau, Neal H. Moritz, Ben Waisbren
Director: Rob Letterman
Writer: Darren Lemke, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski, R.L. Stine
Actors: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage, Steven Krueger, Keith Arthur Bolden, Amanda Lund, Timothy Simons, Ken Marino, Karan Soni, R.L. Stine, Caleb Emery

Blurb from Netflix: A teen is glum about moving to a small town until he falls for his new neighbor. But her dad is a horror writer whose scary world soon turns real.

Selina’s Point of View:
Growing up I think I owned every single Goosebumps book R.L. Stine put out. I loved the entire series. My mom would put me to bed and I would hide under the blankets with a flashlight and read Night of the Living Dummy (1993) or Say Cheese and Die (1992) or The Girl Who Cried Monster (1993). My absolute love of all things horror can probably be traced back to R.L. Stine and Are You Afraid of the Dark (1990-2000).

Last year, when I heard they were putting out a new film, I was super nervous. I wanted to see it in the theaters, but I just couldn’t stand the thought that – if they fucked it up – they could be ruining something I held incredibly dear as a child. It was still #3 on my list of movies to look out for that month… but that didn’t make me any less nervous.

Tonight, I took a deep breath and then hit play on the Netflix app of my Apple TV.

Goosebumps turned out to be everything I could have possibly hoped it would be.

There were some cheesy moments, but even those moments stayed true to the feel of the Goosebumps series. I have no doubt that it exceeded my expectations because the director/writer of this film actually consulted the real life R.L. Stine and took his advice.

The film is based on the book series, but it’s not an adaptation. Instead, it links all the stories into a single universe and becomes a continuation – the next story in the series.

This is one of those movies that you can show your kids, but it’s really made for you – at least if you’re around my age. It’s a film the entire family can watch without anyone tearing their hair out from boredom.

I’ve heard rumors there’s going to be a sequel, and IMDB does have a page that indicates the rumor is more likely true than not.

This time, I will absolutely be seeing the movie in theaters.

I’m going to go rebuy and read some old Goosebumps now.

Cat’s Point of View:
This actually wasn’t my first watch-through of this movie. I had seen it not too long after it was released in theaters. I remembered my general impression of the film, but watching it again was certainly not a loathsome experience. It also was a bonus that I could double check that it was going to be appropriate for my daughter’s upcoming Halloween slumber party.

I loved this movie.

Of course, I expected to really enjoy it.

I have several of R.L Stine’s (When Good Ghouls Go Bad, The Nightmare Room, Mostly Ghostly) books. I watched a bit of the TV series of Goosebumps (1995-1998); and, while not Stine’s work, I was a fan of the Nickelodeon series Are You Afraid of the Dark (1990-2000). Everyone has their own nightmare fuel, though. I know some of Stein’s works stuck with me long after closing the books or turning off the TV.

To give a bit of a further comparison, this was nowhere near the horror and disgusting factor found in another book series of the 80s and early 90s. Do you remember the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark (1981-1991) trilogy by the late Alvin Schwartz (Kickle Sniffers and Other Fearsome Critters, All of Our Noses Are Here and Other Noodle Tales, In A Dark Dark Room and Other Scary Stories)? There’s supposedly a movie in the works, but there’s no telling how long it’ll be in development hell.

Back to the movie before I babble forever about my horror book collection.

I actually sat here for a little bit and tried to think of a movie I’ve seen Jack Black (Nacho Libre, The Big Year, The Brink) in that I didn’t like – at least his performance, specifically. I can’t think of any. He’s capable of so many levels of humor as well as a versatile range in other genres beyond the humorous. He’s not afraid of physical comedy, and quite often goes for the over-the-top. His performance in this role as the iconic author was just right - hilarity with pathos.

Dylan Minnette (Saving Grace, Let Me In, Prisoners) was the perfect foil for Black in this film. I loved the deadpan humor of this character, and all of his sarcasm. It wasn’t all laughs, though. I believed his emotional journey. This wasn’t his first trip into the world of R.L. Stine, either. He and another of his cast mates from this movie were also in R.L Stine's The Haunting Hour (2011-2013).

That brings me to Ryan Lee (Super 8, White Rabbit, A Merry Friggin' Christmas). He also appeared in a 2012 episode of R.L Stine's The Haunting Hour. I imagine that gave this duo a bit of a leg up in experience with some of the material already. I loved Lee’s character in this movie. Unfortunately, I must remain mum as to which bits of the film he shined the best in – no spoilers, sorry!

I loved the spirit and sense of adventure with Odeya Rush’s (We Are What We Are, See You in Valhalla, When the Devil Comes) character, Hannah. She was seemingly fearless with just enough vulnerability. I enjoy strong female roles and this one was both poignant and witty as well.

The film has plenty of spooky elements without resorting to gore. It’s fast enough paced and the story is engrossing enough that I didn’t miss it. Lots of laughs and some cool monster effects abound.

I’m looking forward to firing this back up again on Netflix for my daughter’s party, and we’ll likely watch it many more times in the future.

Rotten Tomatoes Critic Score – 76%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience Score – 63%

Netflix’s Prediction for Selina – 4.5/5
Selina’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

Netflix’s Prediction for Cat – 5/5
Cat’s Trust-the-Dice Score5/5

P.S. Artwork during the beginning of the credits. Some spooky sounds near the end of the credits.

Movie Trailer:

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