If you grew up reading R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps and Fear Street YA horror novels like I did, the thought of one of the author’s career defining series finally being made into a movie probably seems like a strange proposition. It’s not that the books are bad or unadaptable (quite the contrary), but instead are simply old; an anthology that has been continued long enough that the stories have become multi-generational (to give you and idea —Welcome to the Dead House, the first Goosebumps title, was published twenty-two years ago!). Goosebumps has already been turned into a Canadian TV series (which ran from 1995 to 1998) and Tim Burton first attempted to get a film adaptation off the ground fifteen years ago.
So here we are, with a Goosebumps movie finally going into production, only to find that it stars Jack Black as R.L. Stine. Yes, that Jack Black. Where most nerd-boys get themselves worked up into a furor over Michael Bay messing with their precious Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I choose to fret over a long-gestating YA adaptation of silly horror novels aimed at children. We all have our defects, it seems.
The synopsis reads as such:
“In Goosebumps, upset about moving from a big city to a small town, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) finds a silver lining when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door. But every silver lining has a cloud, and Zach’s comes when he learns that Hannah has a mysterious dad who is revealed to be R. L. Stine (Jack Black), the author of the bestselling Goosebumps series. It turns out that there is a reason why Stine is so strange… he is a prisoner of his own imagination – the monsters that his books made famous are real, and Stine protects his readers by keeping them locked up in their books. When Zach unintentionally unleashes the monsters from their manuscripts and they begin to terrorize the town, it’s suddenly up to Stine, Zach, and Hannah to get all of them back in the books where they belong.”
To tell the truth, that actually sounds kind of cool; like a YA cross between The Monster Squad and John Carpenter’s In the Mouth of Madness. I just kind of wish someone else was cast in the Stine role. Jack Black can certainly be great when he wants to be (Tropic Thunder remains a comedic masterwork), yet when he usually shows up in this type of family friendly fare, it’s all phone-in hack work (Gulliver’s Travels anyone?). Plus, not to be a stickler for “getting the look” down, but you’re gonna tell me this guy…
…is gonna play this guy?
I can’t wait until Louis C.K. gets cast as Stephen King in the Dark Tower adaptation.
Goosebumps opens March 23, 2016.