Goosebumps has a line said by Jack Black, one of the final lines in the movie, which really reflects the film: "Every story ever told can be broken down into three parts: The beginning, the middle and the twist.” However in this movie, the beginning is only average, the middle is shabby and the twist is easy to predict.
Based on the famous young-teen Goosebumps’ books, we see Jack Black as R.L. Stine, Odeya Rush as his daughter, Hannah, and Dylan Minnette as Zach, the new neighbour. Zach has to move into a small town from the big apple that is New York City because his mother got a new job in the local school. Coincidently, they happen to move into the house next door to R.L. Stine and his rebel daughter, Hannah (who is the beautiful blue-eyed “girl next door” type of character). Escaping from her Dad’s imprisonment and taking Zach to see the local area they chat and become friends. When Hannah returns home, she is caught by her Dad and gives her a telling off. From the silhouette through the curtain and the shouting that could be heard Zach fears the worst.
R.L. Stine leaves the house for a short period of time when Zach and a new friend of his breaks into the house next door to try and rescue Hannah. In the process of doing this, they find a bookcase full of locked R.L. Stine books and open one of them, resulting in carnage throughout this small town as more and more books are accidentally opened.
I don’t quite understand how easily other books were opened when all of them were locked and only one of them was opened with the key, but that’s something that can be overlooked I guess? The beginning is average because, although it was setting the scene somewhat, I felt like I have seen it all before, it felt too similar to the cliched 'young guy moves next door to a young girl who become friends and fight the world together' thing. Then there’s the middle - with this town being over-run by these monsters each one has its own traits and each one has its own back story. Maybe the knowledge of Goosebumps books is needed to appreciate this, but all these different stories don’t fit in as one at all. It was a bunch of square pegs in a round hole.
In an effort not to reveal the whole plot of the movie, the twist is utterly predictable - and can probably not even be called a twist, or a surprise at that. Once you familiarise yourself with the characters and the type of person R.L. Stine is, you work out the twist without much effort at all, which leads the whole movie into a very disappointing end.
Although Goosebumps does not seem the kind of movie that would lead into a sequel, the movie was left open-ended, so could result in a franchise for Jack Black to put his signature all over. Many of the Jack Black led movies are just an opportunity for him to take up all the screen time messing around. In Goosebumps however, it is all quite well balanced and allowed us enough Jack Black for it to be funny, but not too much for it to be annoying.
The movie is far from incredible, but well above disaster - mediocre would sum it up best.