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‘Goosebumps’ Reviews: Is Jack Black’s R.L. Stine Believable Or Laughable?

Fri, October 16, 2015 10:31am EDT by Emily Longeretta Add first Comment

Is the film adaptation of the epic ‘Goosebumps’ books any good? Can Jack Black really pull off a believable R.L. Stine? Here’s what the critics are saying.

When you love a series as much as people loved R.L. Stine‘s Goosebumps, it’s of course a risky thing to make it into a movie. So when Dylan Minnette and Odeya Rush tale on roles as the kids in a word where the epic series comes to life, and Jack Black attempts to play the famous author, it can go one way or another.

New York Times
In a past life, the Goosebumps adaptation was attached to Tim Burton, and while that has long since ceased to be a fate you wish on a screenplay without reservations, a certain lunacy and excess are missing from much of Mr. Letterman’s realization. Not that there aren’t at least a couple of swell set pieces that go beyond frenzy: Zack and Hannah’s enchanting ride on a Ferris wheel in a forest before the onslaught has begun, and the kids’ slippery face-off with the Snowman in the center of an ice rink, straight out of some sweat-stained nightmare. But more often than not, Mr. Letterman uses his movie as a toy chest of characters more than as a medium, the muggy Mr. Black included. Ms. Rush has an easy warmth, though it’s hard for anyone to stand out, and a plot twist renders her character somewhat problematic as a strong heroine.

Goosebumps is perfect Halloween season fun for the family, for monster hounds, and for devotees of the R.L. Stine form. Its likable lead cast leaves an impression, not just in the more humorous and action-oriented aspects of the film but also in the quieter moments, while Jack Black does his Jack Black thing just fine. Abetted by a nice Danny Elfman score, Goosebumps is scary good!

Young audiences are in for an early lesson in disappointing cinematic literary adaptations with Goosebumps. This first big-screen spin on R.L. Stine’s popular kid-lit series — which already inspired four seasons of TV — turns an endearing collection of silly, spooky stories into a busy, noisy, soulless eyesore. Perfectly timed to capitalize on Halloween-happy family auds, the lackluster horror-comedy will likely squander its breakout potential once word of mouth gets out.

The AV Club
The film’s stabs at meta humor are more entertaining, with Stine written as an eccentric wordsmith who hates being compared to Stephen King, routinely forgets the plots of the books he’s churned out, and eventually explains that every story contains three parts: “the beginning, the middle, and the twist.” Meanwhile, Jack Black plays Stine as, well, a Jack Black character, throwing temper tantrums with a Tenacious D accent. He also does a halfway decent Cryptkeeper imitation to voice malevolent marionette Slappy, who the film conceives of as Stine’s raging id, pulling the strings on the whole monster mash.

So are you going to see Goosebumps this weekend? In the mean time, you can watch Goosebumps for free on Amazon Prime!

— Emily Longeretta