I have just watched “Goosebumps” the movie with my nephew which is based off the children book series of the same title written by prolific writer R.L. Stine. The movie incorporates the characters used in the book series in an entertaining drama. Goosebumps begins with the main character who is a teenager named Zach. Zach and his mom have just moved to Madison, Delaware after his father passed away. He is dealing with the loss in a difficult manner and has build walls around himself, psychologically speaking. While bringing in boxes from the car, he sees a young beautiful girl Hannah who is outgoing but visibly sheltered by her father who sees Zach and tells him to stay away from her and his property. The father is played by actor Jack Black who is known for “School of Rock,” “King Kong (2005),” “Guliver’s travel,” and appearing on the hit kids show “Yo Gabba Gabba.”
Anyhow, Zach begins the school year as the “new student” and is worried about the stigma. Moreover, his mother is the vice-principal which adds to his embarrassing situation as a new student. Nevertheless, he meets a clumsy and aloof teen named Champ who becomes the comedy relief of the movie. Zach starts to develop a crush on Hannah and speaks to her through a fence. Both spend time together and a bond develops. However, he hears Hannah screaming from her room and sees the silhouette of her father walking about in her room. Zach believes Hannah is being abused and calls the police. The police come but Hannah’s father manages to convince them that the screaming that was heard was of a woman in a film he was watching on his television. Unconvinced, Zach calls Champ to help him investigate what is really going on and breaks into Hannah’s home. He places a fake call to Hannah’s father pretending to be the police which forces the father to go to the precinct.
While he is gone, Zach and champ break into the home via the basement. In the home, there are bear traps in the basement while the sitting room has a library with manuscripts of writings from R.L. Stine. These books are locked. Champ is curious as to why they are locked and as he and Zach are about to open one, Hannah comes in and stops them. However, the book opened and the words began to melt and took the form of an Abominable snowman or Yeti. The teens are all terrified and try to remain silent but Champ drops a lamp causing the creature to run towards him. The creature escapes out into the streets of Madison, Delaware. Hannah goes after the creature and Zach goes after her believing she is in danger. However, another manuscript gets unlocked when the creature had barged through the wall of Hannah’s home knocking over the shelf with the books. This book contains the dummy “Slappy” who is a conniving and villainous ventriloquist dummy. He gets upset when someone describes him as a “dummy.” Hannah’s dad discovers what has happened and is furious. He finds Hannah and the two teen boys at a ice hokey ring. The father re-traps the Abominable snowman and then gives the kids a ride back. While on the way, Zach discovers that Hannah’s dad is R.L. Stine.
However, when they get back to Stine’s home, they discovered that the books are missing. They then hear Slappy’s voice announcing that he will release all of the characters from the book as revenge for Stine keeping them entrapped. Slappy escapes and begins unleashing the characters around Madison, Delaware. These characters cause havoc. The movie continues with R.L. Stine, Hannah, Zach and Champ trying to stop Slappy; however, Slappy burned the books which would prevent the creatures from being recaptured in them. While in the endeavor of trying to stop Slappy, the group ends up in a cemetery where the moon light hits Hannah causing her to become transparent like a phantom. Zach then realizes that Hannah is not real. She is a creation of R.L.Stine just like the other creatures from the books. Both Stine and Zach figure out that a new story has to be written with a narrative of their current dilemman and the recapturing of the creatures. Stine begins the story at Zach’s school using his typewriter, but the creatures along with Stine break in. Slappy closes the typewriter cause over Stine’s fingers breaking his bones and preventing him from typing. However, Zach completes the story by ensuring that the ended describes the recapturing of the creatures. As he ends the story, the creatures begin to be sucked back into the book started by Stine and ended by Zach. However, Hannah is also sucked in because she too was a creation of Stine’s imagination. Zach is sad about this but she tells him that he has to let go.
The movie ends with Stine being hired as a the new English teacher as the school is repaired. The real R.L. Stine has a cameo in the movie and is introduced as “Mr. Black” by the character R.L. Stine in the movie. So we see actor Jack Black playing R.L Stine calling the real R.L. Stine “Mr. Black” using his last name as if they switched identities. As he and Zach walk in the hallways, Jack Black playing Stine surprises Zach with Hannah. He wrote a new book with her essentially bringing her back to the real world. Zach is ecstatic and hugs her. Stine then burns the book so that Hannah can exist as a human without worrying about being sucked back into a book. The last seen shows Stine continuing to walk down the hallway after Zach leaves with his new girl friend Hannah. While walking past a display with Stine’s typewrite, he hears typing. Stine looks to investigate and see the typewriter typing by itself. The one typing is the “invisible boy” who apparently was never sucked back into the book and remained free to cause havoc. The movie then closes with Stine making a scared expression.
“Goosebumps” is a great film for the family and people of any age. It does justice to Stine’s classic book series and does not bore the audience. The movie shows the power of love, the importance of friendship, letting go when someone passes and the power of the imagination in writing. I enjoyed it and so did my nephew. It brought back some nostalgia of my own youth reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps series. Hopefully the movie will inspire young people to read more and realize how alive books can come as well as inspire them to use their imagination and write their own stories. Love conquers all things as we read in Corinthians; this movie demonstrates this well with the story of two young and innocent teenagers in love who literally went through hell to care for one another and remain together. I recommend the film and suggest it be used to have family discussions about love, friendship, reading, using one’s imagination and the art of writing.