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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

All my aimless thoughts, ideas, and ramblings, all packed into one site!

Tag Archives: Benjamin Papac

Goosebumps (2015)

Welcome back, nightmares.

Pissed-off about having to move from the big city to a small town in Delaware, teenager Zach Cooper (Dylan Minnette) is already restless. However, when he meets the beautiful girl, Hannah (Odeya Rush), living right next door, he can’t help but fall head-over-heels and get easily distracted. But soon, Zach finds out that Hannah’s father is famous author R. L. Stine (Jack Black), whose best-known work is with the Goosebumps book series. And even though Stine makes it so that Zach doesn’t see his daughter, because these two are teens, they find a way to do so, regardless of what daddy wants the most and unfortunately, it leads to some very tragic circumstances. The main which being that the original copies of Stine’s books open up and release all sorts of evil monsters, goblins, ghouls and dummies get released out into the open, where they begin to wreak havoc on just about every citizen of this small town. Seeing a show they need to fix this bad situation, Zach, Hannah, and R.L. band together to try and stop this predicament from getting even more dangerous than it already is – which will mostly rely on having R.L. create a new book.

There's the Abominable Snowman.

There’s the Abominable Snowman.

If you were a kid growing up in the 90’s, chances are, you read a Goosebumps book. It doesn’t matter which title, or which one (I did prefer the “choose your own destination” ones later on in life when I became older and boring), because you were intrigued by the book-covers, the titles, and most of all, the idea of being apart of the cultural wave that it seemed like all of your fellow friends were abuzz about. And even if you didn’t read a single Goosebumps book, or care to bother to figure out what they’re about, you still got the gist of them all: They’re scary stories, written to have kids scared to go to sleep at night.

Which is why the Goosebumps movie is perfect for any and all audience-members, as it doesn’t matter if you’ve read a single book, or not – either way, you’re going to enjoy the movie.

That Goosebumps isn’t made to just appeal to the dedicated fanboys of the franchise, already puts it in line with some of the better kids movies. Though there’s definitely some scary stuff that may take some kids, as well as parents off-guard, there’s nothing here that’s meant to offend or disrupt anybody’s natural-born home life. If anything, the Goosebumps movie sets out to entertain you, make you feel safe (which is odd considering that it’s supposed to be a “spooky tale”), have you laugh, and, if everything works out perfectly, give some kids newfound interest in the books that haven’t quite picked up steam since the early days of the 21st Century.

So in that general aspect, yeah, Goosebumps is a fine movie. It doesn’t set out to light the world on fire and is, for most of the people who don’t know much about the franchise to begin with, accessible. There’s no real in-jokes or references to the books that will surprise people or have them pointing at the screen in self-adulation, but mostly, just laugh in the way you would with any normal comedy. Except, in this movie’s case, it’s a kids movie and a solid one, at that.

And this is definitely thanks to the fact that Jack Black’s R.L. Stine is actually kind of a dick.

There's, of course, Slappy.

There’s, of course, Slappy.

Even though the movie got the go-ahead from Stine himself, it’s still interesting to see how he’s portrayed as a bit of a pompous a-hole who loves to brag about his books, doesn’t like to be mentioned in the same sentence as “that hack” Stephen King, and likes to explain the difference between hims domestic and worldwide sales. Sure, he’s not a total and complete deuche that you want to punch him in the face, but he’s still one in that entertaining way where you want to hear him talk about himself more and more, just because he’s so ridiculously in-love with himself, that it’s not hard to laugh at it all. Of course, Black is to be credited with this, too, as he doesn’t fully dive into “Jack Black territory” that most of us have come to know, expect and basically hate, and shows that he can a solid screen-presence on the screen, even if he isn’t the star of the show or the one everyone has come to seen.

And heck, after the Brink, I think Jack Black deserves any kind of love he can get.

Aside from Black’s Stine, everybody else does a solid job, too. Though I’ve seen Dylan Minnette play this role before as the self-aware, but everyday teenager, he’s still likable enough to let it work its magic; Odeya Rush is, of course, beautiful, but her character has a bit more personality to her than just that; and Amy Ryan, though may seem oddly-placed here, still works fine as Zach’s mom who occasionally shows up and delights us all.

Then again, when is Amy Ryan not a delight!

Consensus: Like most kids movies, Goosebumps doesn’t try to re-invent any wheel, but instead, entertain the whole family with fun, humor, and a nostalgic adoration for its source material that definitely deserves a new audience.

6 / 10

And, uhm, some hug ant-creature-thing. Yeah, don't know if I read that book.

And, uhm, some hug ant-creature-thing. Yeah, don’t know if I read that book.

Photos Courtesy of: Aceshowbiz

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The Duff (2015)

Dang teenagers and their technology.

High school teenager Bianca Piper (Mae Whitman) is smart, quick-witted, is sure of herself, and also has a bunch of friends that love and support her. However, she soon realizes that maybe her social life isn’t all that great to begin with; sure, she has friends, but is she really as successful or as popular as them? Better yet, is she really all that pretty, either? Eventually, Bianca stumbles upon the realization that she is, sadly, a DUFF (Designated Ugly Fat Friend). This shakes Bianca to her core, so much so that she realizes it’s about time that she realizes it’s finally time for a change of pace where she can have more men look her way, more people talk about her with positive connotations, and more friends, as a result. This is when she enlists the help of her neighbor Wes (Robbie Amell) who is also using her as a way to ensure that he gets good enough grades in class so that he can pass, get those scholarships to the colleges he wants, and live his life, happily forever after. But somehow, through all of the hanging out they’re doing, Wes and Bianca soon realize that maybe what it is that they need, isn’t just to look pretty and be popular – maybe, just maybe, it’s to have someone special in your life?

Selfie, with her?

Selfie, with her?

Basically, take the premise to Not Another Teen Movie, make it serious, and wouldn’t you know it? You sort of have what the Duff is; while it is, at one point, insightful in exposing the true nature of young, impressionable, high school kids and their sometimes evil, maniacal ways of pushing people into stereotypes, regardless of whether they accept it or not. Then, on the other point, it’s also a movie that feels incredibly content with keeping things as simple and conventional as possible, without ever trying to change, or shake up the genre it seems to be playing around in.

To be honest, the Duff is a little bit of both, but it’s at least ten times better than a mega-serious Not Another Teen Movie.

What works in the Duff‘s favor is that it has a fresh voice to tell us all that we need to know about the current state of high school’s social life today, to ensure that everybody’s on the same page. While it’s only been a few years or so since I last stepped in a high school classroom, there’s still a certain feeling that even though most may stay the same about high school and all of the social politics that go into, the landscape may alter a bit to where there are more cliques than ever before. Through Bianca, we see, hear, and understand what it is that’s around her and it helps us to create a bubble around each one of these character’s lives and how they’ll affect her.

And this also helps out the fact that Bianca, the character herself, is actually pretty smart and funny. Some of that has to do with the fact that Mae Whitman (yes, her?) is charming in her own ways, but some of it also has to do with the fact that she’s actually an interesting character that feels lived-in and not just an archetype of what some writer’s would deem as “hip” or “cool”. Sure, she’s both of which, but she isn’t bragging about it, either; that’s just not her style. She’s much more subdued than that and it helps her character come off as more realistic than anything else.

Not to mention that, despite seeming like he’s way too old for high school, Robbie Amell and Whitman have something of a sexy bit of chemistry together. Though the pairing is, I must admit, odd to say the least, these two make it work somehow by showing that these two need one another. Sure, the ways we are shown this are hackneyed, corny and wildly predictable, at best, but there’s still some shed of truth to be found in these scenes.

Oh yeah, totally what high school jocks looked like in high school. Grey hair and all.

Oh yeah, totally what high school jocks looked like in high school. Grey hair and all.

Not too much, but just enough to keep me away from barfing out my lunch by all of the sappy teen romance.

Like I said, however, the Duff does feel like it gets a tad too predictable for its own tastes and while it can sometimes get away with its sarcastic smirk, it doesn’t always save the day. For instance, take the character of Bella Thorne, who plays the stereotypical bitch of the school who’s only concern is whom her boyfriend is of the week, whether or not she’s having a party later in the day, and if there are enough cameras around her following her every move. Despite Thorne trying here, it still seems like the kind of lame role that’s written for a sitcom; whereas instead of getting to see the deep shades beneath her exterior, we just see an annoying, villain of a girl. It’s quite bothersome actually and doesn’t do much to help the movie, except just ad needless conflict.

Then, of course, there’s the message of this movie, whatever it is that may be. See, a part of me wants to give the movie the benefit of the doubt and say that, in the end, the movie’s all about the triumph and the will of one woman’s journey to make herself feel better for who it is that she is, rather than what others see, there’s still another part of me that thinks the opposite. See, without saying much, Bianca changes herself up in a manner that makes her seem more appealing to those around and even though Whitman is already plenty fine to look at, the movie tries to make it seem like she needs to look and fit a certain way to get the guy, to get the friends, and ultimately, get the life they oh so crave and desire.

To me, that doesn’t sit well. Doesn’t matter if you’re talking to young high schoolers or senior citizens, it just feels oddly-placed is all, especially in a movie that seems so against selling out and being along with the crowd in the first place.

Then again, that’s high school for ya.

Consensus: The Duff‘s familiar premise and feel waters it down from being like other high school comedies released in the past few years, but still offers up enough charm and wit to make up for some of those problems.

5.5 / 10

Yup. Totally ugly and fat.......

Yup. Totally ugly and fat…….

Photo’s Credit to: IMDB, AceShowbiz