A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Goosebumps is a live-action movie based on the best-selling middle-grade horror novels by R.L. Stine. There are lots of different kinds of monsters (who could certainly frighten young/sensitive kids), and though teens are in peril and there are some scares, the main focus is on action: chasing, fighting, destruction, and chaos. Expect a bit of kissing and some spoken references to things like twerking, YouTube, and a kid "being on drugs." Language isn't an issue, with the strongest word being "butt." Overall, the movie is still fairly lowbrow in tone; it will likely appeal to fans of the books, but other scary-movie lovers might prefer something quieter and spookier.
What's the story?
Teen Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) moves with his single mom (Amy Ryan) from the big city to the small town of Madison, Delaware. Zach doesn't seem to fit in at school (where his mom is vice principal), and the only person he meets is a misfit named Champ (Ryan Lee). But Zach does connect with his next door neighbor, Hannah (Odeya Rush), who seems to be kept prisoner in her house by her mysterious father (Jack Black). Investigating, Zach and Champ discover that Hannah's dad is R.L. Stine, the famous author of the Goosebumps series. Unfortunately, they also discover a series of locked original manuscripts that, once opened, release real monsters into the world. Among them is the worst one of all: Slappy.
Is it any good?
Fans of Stine's books may or may not find something to enjoy here, since the movie is less intent on being scary than on loud action, special effects, goofy humor, and a tentative teen romance. Director Rob Letterman previously made the critically slammed Gulliver's Travels -- also starring Black -- and GOOSEBUMPS brings that same kind broad, lowbrow approach to the beloved middle-grade books series.
It's all rather graceless, and yet it has a certain kind of good cheer. It harks back to a time when horror fans simply loved monsters and took pride in not being afraid of them. The movie parades an endless, imaginative array of monsters and allows viewers to make their own connections. Black is also used well -- he's more or less restrained in his role (but still funny) -- and the younger actors are likewise likable.
Talk to your kids about ...
When are movie monsters scary, and when are they not? How would you classify the ones in this movie?
How does the movie compare to the Goosebumps books? How does the R.L. Stine character compare to how you might have imagined him? How does he deal with fame and success? Does he seem like a famous person should?
- In theaters: October 16, 2015
- On DVD or streaming: January 26, 2016
- Cast: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush
- Director: Rob Letterman
- Studios: Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures Releasing
- Genre: Action/Adventure
- Topics: Magic and Fantasy, Adventures, Book Characters, Friendship, Monsters, Ghosts, and Vampires
- Run time: 90 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG
- MPAA explanation: scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.