Friday, October 29, 2021

Movie Review: Goosebumps 2 - Haunted Halloween

Stars: 4 out of 5
Pros: Action packed story with laughs
Cons: Predictable at times
The Bottom Line:
Halloween, dummy
Action, light scares in sequel
Most kids will enjoy

“As a General Rule, When an Animated Doll Tells You to Keep Secrets, That a Red Flag.”

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed the original Goosebumps movie.  It was the perfect mix of comedy with light scares that made it fun.  So when I spotted Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween on TV, I didn’t hesitate to record it.

The action this time takes place in Wardenclyffe, New York and centers around the Quinn family.  Single mom Kathy (Wendi McLendon-Covey) is overworked trying to provide for her kids, high schooler Sarah (Madison Iseman) and middle schooler Sonny (Jeremy Ray Taylor).  This particular Halloween, Kathy has also agreed to take care of Sonny’s best friend, Sam (Caleel Harris) while his parents are out of town.

Sam has decided that he and Sonny are going to start a business that removes trash for people, and he is thrilled when he gets their first client.  The house is spooky and appears deserted.  They do find some stuff inside, including an old ventriloquist doll.  They don’t realize it is Slappy, the evil ventriloquist that R. L. Stine wrote about.  Slappy just says he wants to find a family.  But is his definition of a family a good one for the Quinns?

If you and your kids enjoy the first one, you’ll find more of the same here.  There are light scares, but the movie is really more of an action movie for kids set around Halloween.  Yes, we are dealing with the supernatural and monsters, hence my description of light scares.  But this is tempered by some great comedy.  You know your kids best, but I can imagine only the most sensitive kids will be bothered by what is presented here.  (I’ll admit I would have been one of those when I was the target age for the movie.)

Do keep in mind that this is aimed at kids.  Adults will certainly find it tame.  It follows some of the familiar family movie tropes, so it is predictable as well.  As long as you keep that in mind when you sit down to watch it, you should be fine.

Because the movie is fun.  It is filled with action that doesn’t really give you time to stop and think.  The special effects, and there are plenty of them, are great.  And the cast does a fine job of helping us get lost in the story.

Unlike the Goosebumps books, which were often not connected to each other, this movie does contain some connections to the first movie, but it’s not obvious what they are until late in the movie.

Speaking of which (VERY MINOR CASTING SPOILER AHEAD), I got a kick out of seeing Madison Iseman and Jack Black sharing some screen time here.  If you are a fan of the two recent Jumanji movies, you’ll recognize them as Bethany.

Goosebumps 2: Haunted Halloween aims to be a light, family friendly, and fun Halloween movie.  It succeeds brilliantly at it.  Set your expectations accordingly, and you’ll have fun.

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