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Running Time:
1 hour 43 minutes

Rating: PG Parental Guidance Suggested.

Rating Explanation:
for scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor

Jimmy's Buzz Guide Review:
There's just enough of its spooky, kid-friendly charm in this mixture of animation and live action, to make up for the script's scattershot humor and frantic pace.

Additional Info:
Jack Black ... R. L. Stine
Dylan Minnette ... Zach
Odeya Rush ... Hannah
Ryan Lee ... Champ
Amy Ryan ... Gale
Jillian Bell ... Lorraine
Ken Marino ... Coach Carr
Halston Sage ... Taylor
Steven Krueger ... Davidson
Keith Arthur Bolden ... Principal Garrison
Amanda Lund ... Officer Brooks
Timothy Simons ... Officer Stevens
Karan Soni ... Mr. Rooney


Straight-arrow teen Zach (Dylan Minnette) and his widowed mom Gale (Amy Ryan) move from New York City to the small Delaware town where his intrusively helpful aunt Lorraine (Jillian Ryan) lives. The house is next door to that of a pretty girl named Hannah (Odeya Rush), who quickly catches Zach’s eye. But her father (Jack Black) is an ultra-possessive sort, rudely telling the boy to keep off their property. When Zach witnesses an argument between father and daughter, however, he concludes that he’s done something to her and—after the useless intervention of the goofy local cops—breaks into the house along with Champ (Ryan Lee), the class geek who’s glommed onto him in search of friendship.

There they discover a cache of manuscripts of the Goosebumps books, all strangely locked; and when one is accidentally opened, it releases its subject, the Abominable Snowman of Pasadena, into the world. Before long creatures from the remaining books are on the loose as well, all up to no good under the direction of Slappy the Dummy, the malevolent puppet from The Night of the Living Dummy and its various sequels.

It turns out that Hannah’s father is none other than R.L. Stine, the Goosebumps  author who’s turned into a reclusive grouch precisely to prevent his destructive creations from escaping into the real world. Now he and Hannah must join forces with Zach and Champ to prevent Slappy and his army of critters from turning their town into a ruin as a prelude to taking over the world.

The result is an escalating chain of frenzied action sequences in which the heroic little band of misfits must confront the spooky creatures and put a stop to their misdeeds, sometimes one-on-one but often in groups (including a big final showdown). They face off against the snowman on an ice rink, for example, and a werewolf in a super market; and the local high school predictably becomes a war zone, with students trapped in the gym where a dance is being held. Naturally some adults—Lorraine, the cops—get involved as well, but mostly for slapstick purposes. A few of these encounters are mildly amusing, but essentially they’re just a mess of kid-friendly chases and special effects of variable quality.

Technically Goosebumps certainly trumps the cable TV series previously made from Stine’s stories, but quite honestly it’s not appreciably better in overall quality. As a Halloween movie this qualifies as more trick than treat.

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