Goosebumps Parent Review

From start to finish, this movie runs like an amusement ride full of thrills, twists and turns.

Overall B

When Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) meets the girl next door (Odeya Rush), he discovers she is the daughter of R. L. Stine (Jack Black) – the author of a series of scary children's novels. When the teen accidentally cracks open the cover of one of his books, the monstrous characters written about on the pages magically come to life.

Violence C
Sexual Content A-
Profanity B+
Substance Use A

Goosebumps is rated PG for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor

Movie Review

R. L. Stine (who makes a cameo appearance in this film) is a best-selling author, well known for his Goosebumps series. These juvenile horror novels are not your average bedtime stories. As one of the characters in the movie explains: “They don’t put children to sleep—they keep them up all night.”

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This big screen production presents a fictional version of the writer, played by Jack Black as a man with a big ego hidden behind the thin façade of someone seeking a life of anonymity. Perhaps his reclusive behavior is also the result of a few secrets he has concealed in his library…

Stine, who goes by the fictitious name of Mr. Shivers, finds his privacy threatened when his beautiful daughter Hannah (Odeya Rush) attracts the attention of a boy who has just moved into the neighborhood. Despite ominously warning Zach (Dylan Minnette) to leave them both alone, the teen instead becomes convinced the girl is in danger. When a call to the police fails to satisfy his concerns, Zach decides to investigate the situation himself. Still, he is smart enough to know he should take some back up with him. The problem is the only person besides Hannah that he’s met in his new home is a rather cowardly boy named Champ (Ryan Lee).

Whatever it is Zach and Champ are expecting when they break into the creepy house next door, it is not what they find. After sidestepping bear traps in the basement and tracking down a thumping sound upstairs, they bump into an annoyed Hannah who has no desire to be rescued. The do however discover a bookcase full of locked manuscripts that gives away the true identity of her Dad. And when they crack the cover of one of the volumes, they also learn the actual reason why the pair is in hiding.

No sooner do the leaves flip open than the abominable snowman, the title character of the tale, arises from the typewritten words. Unfortunately, this proves to be just the beginning of the escape into the real world of various other monsters created in Stine’s imagination. Aided by Slappy (voice of Jack Black), a ventriloquist dummy featured in another of his stories, the alarming creatures run amuck, destroying property, terrorizing citizens, welding weapons and promising to do whatever it takes so that they will never have to return to the confines of the printed page.

From start to finish, this movie runs like an amusement ride full of thrills, twists and turns. And just as theme parks have signs indicating how tall passengers should be before boarding, parents would be well advised not to take along those too little for this adventure. Although the screenplay spoofs many of the clichés found in this genre, the script never takes itself too seriously and the violence is not overly graphic. Al the same, the constant peril faced by the characters and the oft-times gruesome depictions of the villainous foes will be enough to scare most youngsters.

Boasting big production budgets and believable special effects, the film also includes positive portrayals of parents, teamwork and a few literary terms that might come in handy on your teen’s next English test. With few profanities and little sexual content, those looking for some fright factor may find this escapade delivers that desired goose bump sensation.

Directed by Rob Letterman. Starring Odeya Rush, Jack Black, Halston Sage, Amy Ryan. Running time: 103 minutes. Theatrical release October 16, 2015. Updated

Get details on profanity, sex and violence in Goosebumps here.

Goosebumps Parents Guide

This movie is based on the Goosebumps books by R. L. Stine.

What kind of bedtime stories do you enjoy? Do you what to be terrified or soothed? The character Champ says he has read most of the of Stine’s books. Do you think reading horror novels may be a contributing factor in the paranoia he displays? How might the things you read (or watch) affect you?

How does Zach try to deal with the losses in his life? How helpful is it to try to stuff painful issues out of sight? What childhood trauma is Stine dealing with? What do you think of his solution to his problems? What are some productive things people can do to improve their mental and emotional health?

Throughout the movie Stine tries to enlighten the boys about the elements that make up a good story. Some of the things he lists are plot twists and emotional development for the characters. Does the movie follow his literary advice?

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