“Goosebumps 2” Looks Very Poor Without Jack Black

Matthew Loffhagen
Sony Pictures
(Photo: Sony Pictures)

As far as I’m concerned, Jack Black makes “Goosebumps” worth watching.

Okay, maybe not everyone will agree with me on that, but then, not everyone enjoyed him in “King Kong” as much as I did either.

Black’s presence in “Goosebumps” makes the whole thing inherently farcical. It turns what would otherwise be a faux-creepy kids movie into something that’s enjoyable for adults who vaguely remember the source material.

Jack Black Goosebumps
Source: Sony Pictures

The whole point is to laugh at how silly these books are, no matter how scary we might have found them as kids.

(For the record, only one of these books ever scared me when I was young. Not that I’d have even admitted to getting scared once!)

The trailer for “Goosebumps 2” shows that the sequel is discarding Black, along with the young protagonists of the first film. In their place, we get a trio of new teen heroes, who are apparently going to be menaced by all the same monsters from the first film.

Yup. Slappy is back. As is the Abominable Snowman. The Werewolf of Fever Swamp shows up in the trailer too.

This is basically a movie that features all the same scary creatures and monsters from the original film, but without Jack Black as the author, RL Stine.

To this I say, what’s the point?

Next Verse, The Same as the First

Why are we seeing all the same things happen again, but without the comedy star that made the first movie better than it had any right to be?

Remove Black from the picture, and this is basically a film on the level of a Disney Channel original movie.

Worse – a Nickelodeon attempt at a Disney Channel style movie.

I suppose, in fairness, this means that “Goosebumps 2” will be closer to the source material (as well as the TV series from the ‘90s) than the first movie.

There is likely some logic to this. The first movie was all about nostalgia for the older people in the room, but their kids are now invested in the series, so this next instalment is aimed at them.

Goosebumps 2 Kids
Source: Sony Pictures

Now that the younger viewers have been introduced to the fun, they can run with the story themselves.

It’s just weird that there’s not another key grown-up to tie everything together. This is going to be a movie with far less appeal, because the older nostalgia crowd have much less reason to show up to theaters to support this.

None of this is particularly surprising, considering that this is a Sony Pictures movie. The studio is notoriously bad at making decisions, so the idea of neutering this sequel by removing its most expensive actor probably seemed like a sensible idea to some money-grubbing executives at the time.

No Longer About Nostalgia

I suppose I should be thankful that there’s a Halloween movie coming this year that’ll be appropriate for kids. I had some very worrying conversations with preteens who’d seen “IT” last year, and I’d rather the youth of today didn’t get too warped by scary horror movies that would have traumatized me when I was their age.

Perhaps the takeaway from all this is that ‘80s and ‘90s kids are getting old and that we need to let go of this incredibly average book series, so that a younger audience can embrace it instead.

Given how certain fans have reacted to seeing “Star Wars” taken to a new generation, something tells me this might not end well.