The feature film version of "Goosebumps" is a homage and a celebration at the same time.
It's a celebration, though well past the 20th anniversary of the book series, which began three years after author R. L. Stine had started the Fear Street line of teen horror stories, which, amazingly, has never been adapted into movies or television, though Stine's other book series have. The TV Goosebumps marks its 20th anniversary this year, and I'd imagine Discovery Family, the last network to hold the cable rights, is doing a marathon of some kind this weekend to mark the occasion.
It's also a homage, as the producers crammed as many of the characters in the series, particularly Slappy, the Living Dummy, into the story, which is your typical Goosebumps plot, but with a few of the usual twists.
Stine (Jack Black) is presented as an anti-social recluse who moves from town to town, in the company of his daughter, Hannah (the real Stine, who appears in a quick cameo at the end of the film, actually has a son). A widowed vice principal and her son move in next door, and Hannah hits it off with the boy, Zack, who also makes fast friends with cheerful, but timid Champ. Stine forbids Zack & Hannah to be together, but you know how this will go, don't you? Of course you do.
After Stine leaves on an errand, Zack & Champ, concerned that something happened to Hannah, which Stine denies, break into the author's house. It takes them a while to figure everything out, but not before an accident unleashes an abominable snowman, which chases the kids to an ice rink. Unbeknownst to the kids, Slappy (Black again) has managed to escape, and Stine is faced with some unpleasant reality........
The film is not as bad as some critics make it out to be, though there are facepalm moments a'plenty, largely thanks to geeky, goofy Champ. Black plays his part well, although when the real Stine makes his appearance you can see why they opted for Black and a more dark humor approach.
"The Fifth Wave" (January): Yep, another movie based on yet another youth sci-fi novel series. Color me underwhelmed, although I thought at first Sony might've snatched "Independence Day II" away from Fox....!
"Alvin & the Chipmunks: Road Chip" (December): Alvin, Simon, & Theodore are back. I think this is the 4th movie in the series?
"The Good Dinosaur" (Nov. 25): Disney & Pixar's latest postulates a different kind of Stone Age.
"Ratchet & Clank" (April) & "The Angry Birds Movie" (Summer?). Meh.
"Goosebumps" merits a B+.