Director: Rob Letterman
Writers: Darren Lemke (screenplay), Scott Alexander (story)
Stars: Jack Black, Dylan Minnette, Odeya Rush
Plot: A teenager teams up with the daughter of young adult horror author R. L. Stine after the writer’s imaginary demons are set free on the town of Madison, Delaware.
Running Time: 1 hour 45 Minutes
Rotten Tomatoes Score: Critics 76% Audience 62%
Why I Watched It: There was good buzz behind the film and the trailers looked fun, so I was hopeful.
Random Thoughts: This was a bit of a comeback for Jack Black, he got stuck in a rut, playing the same guy making good money but his films under preformed, going to a youth friendly film could be the kiss of death just ask Eddie Murphy. I thought it was a smart change of pace give him a different character to play. The other thing about this movie that might confuse people R.L. Stine is a hugely successful author but this movie is not based on one of his many books, and here he’s a character in it.
What I liked: This film reminded me a lot of the first Jumanji, which is not a bad thing, the thing that the film nails is tone, it’s not too scary and it’s not to kiddie it hits middle ground pretty well.
The anchor of the film is Jack Black he doesn’t overplay, he’s not over the top and dare I say he’s understated, he doesn’t force it and he does play R.L. Stine different that most of his other film characters. In a film like this all the characters are there to keep the plot moving cause this film is about all the creatures and monsters. With that being said this is a very good cast. There’s no big standout but all help keep the film going.
The best part of the film is the idea, and it’s a different one that R.L Stine has created all these monsters and he keeps them locked up so they won’t do harm. It’s a clever idea about imagination and also keeping the monster at bay, every horror film has to toe that line, they have to convince you monsters are real but always have a way to defeat them and the key to this story is have it scary but not to make it too dark. I also liked the character played by Odeya Rush, it was different and I didn’t see it coming and I think her character shows that the filmmakers might have made a formula film but it wasn’t weighed down by using all the standard cliches they bought in different takes and breathed fresh air into the story.
What I Didn’t Like: It was too bad that they had to rely on CGI so much, it would have been nice if they honoured the stories by going old school. Now some worked but some kind of took you out of the film.
Also though the film was a little long as it did drag at the beginning it’s the only part of the story that seemed forced, they pushed the neighbours together to get the plot going now once R.L. Stone is introduced then the film flows better. I mentioned the cast and they’re good but Amy Ryan has nothing to do and Jillian Bell could have been used better.
Final Thoughts: I liked it and it’s one of those films that even though it’s not great you really appreciate the fact that it’s not nearly as bad as it could of been or you feared it was going to be. It was a nice surprise.