Should it matter if a movie based on a series of scary books for kids isn’t actually, you know, scary? R.L. Stine’s young-reader series is the core material for this story of teenager Zach (Dylan Minnette), who moves to a new town with his mom (Amy Ryan) and discovers weirdness associated with his new neighbors, Hannah (Odeya Rush) and her mysterious dad (Jack Black). Darren Lemke’s screenplay is wittier than might be expected from a family-friendly adventure, with gags that work as more than in-jokes for those who grew up with the books. But ultimately it’s a variation on movies like Jumanji and even Pixels that loose crazy CGI threats upon the world—and, unfortunately, also shares Pixels rather retrograde notion of female characters as trophies for the heroic guys. And while director Rob Letterman (who also collaborated with Black on Gulliver’s Travels and Shark Tale) delivers something that’s engaging enough as a fun little action movie, Goosebumps never really appears interested in delivering situations that are truly creepy, or in allowing brave, resourceful kids to be the center of attention. That’s a twist we should have hoped not to see coming.
Director: Rob Letterman
Producer: Deborah Forte, Neal H. Moritz, Tania Landau, Bill Bannerman, Ben Waisbren, Bruce Berman and Greg Basser
Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Amy Ryan, Jillian Bell, Halston Sage, Steven Krueger, Keith Bolden, Amanda Lund, Timothy Simons, Ken Marino, Karan Soni, R.L. Stine, Caleb Emery and Gabriela Fraile