Originally Published: October 29, 2018 8:54 a.m.
If you want to see a fun, stress-free, no-thought-required movie, go on over and you'll enjoy Goosebumps 2. Bring the kids, go alone or with a significant other. It's entertaining for all ages. Very much along the lines of the original Goosebumps books where the scares are infrequent (about three jump scares) and mild suspense. Geared toward the ageless tweens of any generation, all ages groups can enjoy this movie. Plus, you don't have to know any of the Goosebumps books.
The movie centers around Madison Iseman, the big sister, Jeremy Ray Taylor, the little brother and his friend Caleel Harris. Iseman is a graduating senior focused on getting into Columbia University. Taylor and Harris are good friends just trying to survive school and getting bullied by Peyton Wich. Taylor is struggling with the college entrance essay and Taylor is struggling with his science project trying to duplicate Tesla's theory of wireless power generated from a tower. Both struggles are significant as the movie rolls along. Prepare yourself for the first jump scare in Iseman's bedroom window.
Taylor and Harris try to make money by offering to collect junk. Of course their first customer, who is never seen, sends them to an Addam's Family-style house to clean it out. The family name on the house is Stine. Taylor stumbles upon a secret room containing an old trunk. Inside the trunk is a lone book and a key. With the key they open the book. It's unfinished with many empty pages. All of a sudden a ventriloquist dummy appears in the trunk. In the dummy's pocket is a piece of paper with the dummy's name on it. On the back of the paper are words the kids read aloud. The dummy comes to life and helps make the local bully look silly. You can probably see where this is going. Add in the fact it's Halloween topped with enthusiastic (and childless) neighbor funny man Ken Jeong who has gone all-out on his decorations. Jeong is really a bright spot in the movie for the little bit he plays. He's funny. The giant balloon-made spider covering his house is something any proud Halloween decorator would love.
The dummy has magical abilities. He can make anything come to life. Using a local power company, and the principle behind Taylor's science project, the dummy transmits his power and all Halloween decorations come to life. Nothing chilling or aggressive. Mostly silly and menacing, keeping in mind the target audience. The rest of the movie has Jack Black as the original R. L. Stine coming to the rescue. Black's parts are minimal and pretty insignificant. This allows Iseman, Taylor and Harris to take center stage in saving the town.
Iseman was a little over-the-top in her facial expressions, intonation and body language. Taylor and Harris were spot on and believable. Even dealing with bully issues were light and superficial. I don't think the movie was meant to deal with such issues. It's a simple kids save the town kind of thing. The movie is rated PG (probably because it's a horror movie and the jump scares) and runs about 90 minutes. I'll give it 4 out of 5 stars.