Why did it take a million years to make a movie out of the R.L. Stine series Goosebumps – the best-selling book series in history until a certain boy wizard popped up? ‘90s kids didn’t have much in the way of horror-comedy. Monster Squad, I guess? Maybe it’s for the best that they waited, as Jack Black turns in another hilarious performance in a career notable at this point mostly for clowning around at kid level without patronizing, while still being entertaining to adults.
Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) and his mother Gale (Amy Ryan) have recently moved to the peaceful town of Madison, Delaware. Zach makes a friend in Hannah, a neighbor, even as her overprotective father Mr. Shivers (played by Jack Black) tries to warn him to stay away from, well, almost everything. But Mr. Shivers is more than he seems. Rather than adapting a single book, director Rob Letterman and screenwriter Darren Lemke bet everything on Black who, in a kind of Cabin-in-the-Woods-but-for-kids twist, reveals that Mr. Shivers is actually R. L. Stine himself, whose secret to such creative books is that all the monsters are real. The supernatural smorgasbord offers up killer gnomes (from Revenge Of The Lawn Gnomes); hungry yeti (The Abominable Snowman Of Pasadena); the principal villain of the piece, a malevolent ventriloquist’s dummy called Slappy (from Night Of The Living Dummy — if you’ve ever seen the cover of a Goosebumps book, it’s likely this one) and dozens more. The creepy creature onslaught works a treat, constantly posing new challenges and supplying a fresh stream of gags. It’s breezy and creative and deadly funny — pretty much all you can ask (and more than you frequently get) out of a Halloween movie aimed at the youngsters.
Tickets for this special “Mummy & Me” screening are $10 for adults ($7 for Tampa Theatre Members) and FREE for kids ages 12 and younger.
A Nightmare on Franklin Street 2019 is presented by Voodoo Ranger and J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc. Promotional consideration is provided by Spooky Empire and WEDU PBS.