You will believe in monsters
I promised people some nostalgia, I give some nostalgia. Goosebumps is one of those things that I'd be hard pressed to imagine a person not hearing about. The books that we all used to read as kids, the television show, even just the fundamental premise of spooky stories that aren't so hard-laced as to be unapproachable by children - things of nightmare, and yet still child-like. Certainly, what once haunted us as kids could be left behind as age stacks like the volumes of books available though, only to find one day an old name coming back to the light as something new. Tonight's entry - the 2015 Goosebumps movie. I'll try not to pun you to death.
We start our video off with a bit of a trope - the family moving to a new place. In this case, the mother-son duo found a new place to reside in part due to starting over, and also for the sake of an open vice principal job. It's not long before the son figures out that their neighbor is a bit... eccentric. His wacky aunt comes over to welcome them, and we find out the son is still bummed by the death of his father some time before. After a hard day's moving in, he's surprised by the neighbor's daughter while taking out the trash. The two seem to hit it off to some extent, and after inquiring about things to do she takes him out to an old abandoned theme park. It seems to still be attached to the grid however, and after the power is all on she takes him up to the top of the Ferris wheel for a stellar view of the entire town.
After figuring out that she's home schooled, the two's next conversation is a bit interrupted by the father popping in and being all worked up. The boy returns to his house, and during doing homework catches some heated arguing between the daughter and her father, ending with her screaming and the lights going out. Worried about her, the boy then calls the cops, who show that they aren't the best at their job, but reasonably leave the house after nothing suspicious arises. The mother calls the aunt over to watch/spend time with her son while she has to go and chaperone a school dance, and the boy ends up sneaking out and enlisting the help of a kid he met at school to go investigate the safety of the girl.
Upon breaking into the house, weird things are found - such as a whole mess of bear traps laying about the basement. Sounds draw them to a bookshelf as they search for the girl, and after much instigation the boy ends up unlocking one of the Goosebumps manuscripts on it to silence his annoying sidekick - only to be ambushed by the girl who thinks someone has been broken in. The mood lightens briefly, until the girl realizes the boy unlocked one of the books. Not understanding what's the deal, the boy goes to pick it up and opens it before the girl can fully squeeze out her warning not to do so - and the three are blown back by a force as the book starts to act strange. The ink liquefies, floating into the swirling vortex created by the book and forming an Abominable Snowman. Will the three manage to survive their encounter long enough to get it back in the book, and will the eccentric dad murder the lot of them after he finds out?
I'll be the first to admit that I don't remember a whole lot of Goosebumps books - I know we owned a bunch of them when I was a kid, and I know I read most if not all the ones we owned as a kid as well. Memory issues aside however, even a cursory search will show you that they really wanted to pay homage to the collection of these things when it came to the monsters making an appearance - down to the "star" Slappy. This really amps up the nostalgia factor of the movie - even though the movie itself is telling it's own story, which in turn could just as easily be (and somewhat contains elements of) a Goosebumps story. Yes, there are quite a few cliched elements to the story - the new family on the block, the eccentric neighbor, the overly-awkward and dweeby school-kid, the wacky aunt, and even how some of the scenes play out aren't the most original things. That being said, it never really feels like an issue, as your never really so much trying to figure out the next twist or anything of that sort as much as you are just along for and enjoying the ride.
Special Effects help this ride be enjoyable as well. They aren't always the most super-believable things (although the practical stuff fits the world just fine), but it feels less like a disadvantage and more like part of the charm - considering it's monsters from books that are being brought to life. Some effects are played up for humor, and others just to add character - such as the werewolf's drool compared to the cracking porcelain effect on the lawn gnomes. The 3D didn't particularly jump out at me, although there was a distinct feel of depth in some of the scenes that wasn't there when watching it normally in theaters the first time I saw it. Of course, as always, I have to remind you that I'm not the best to question about 3D since I seem to have a hard time noticing a lot of it in the modern era of 3D.
Actors do a decent job with what they have. The son and daughter characters have a few moments where it feels like they might have been able to do a bit better than what was there, but the sidekick's overacting fits wonderfully into what I think was the intent of his character. Jack Black does a magnificent job of playing a crazy over-the-top character as well, and it only doubles down in this movie as he voices Stine's dummy counterpart Slappy as well. I'd wager that at no point is the acting worse than any sort of Nickelodeon or Disney show, and sometimes it really helps play into the humor. It's not exactly a "laugh constantly throughout" movie - despite it's enjoy-ability - but there are still a few jokes in there that work quite well be it in a slapstick or pun sense. There's also a pretty decent range of "acting" they get out of the monsters as well.
Overall, I feel safe to say I can recommend checking this one out from the fact that it's pretty darn enjoyable. I'm sure it won't be some people's cup of tea (as there's always someone who won't like something), but for the most part they played their cards quite smartly with this one. The effects are decent to well done, the acting likewise, and the little references and in jokes you can catch can be pretty entertaining. The fact that the movie is family friendly doesn't hurt it much either, especially if you kid(s) happen to be fans of the Goosebumps books in the first place.