Last weekend I went to the movies twice. Both times I saw the movie Goosebumps. As W gets older I am realizing we are entering into this fuzzy area of films. There are the movies he wants to see, the movies he is old enough to see, and the movies he is ready to see. They don’t always overlap. Usually I can rely strongly on the guidelines set forth by the MPAA, but the people who create those guidelines don’t know my kid the way I know him. And it is also not their responsibility to guide him – it’s mine.
The MPAA gave Goosebumps a PG rating for, “scary and intense creature action and images, and for some rude humor.” That wasn’t helpful enough. And that’s why I opted to screen the film first before deciding if my son was ready to see it.
(psssst! Don’t forget to answer my question at the end of the review. You could win a Fandango Gift Card!)
Who Goes to the Movies at Our House: Me (Mom), Lolly (Grandmother), and W (aged six and a half)
Let’s Talk About Goosebumps
What’s the story: After recently moving into a new home, high-school aged Zach suspects his neighbor’s daughter, Hannah, is being attacked. He enlists Champ, a new school friend, to help him rescue her. Zach discovers his neighbor is actually R.L. Stine, author of the famous Goosebumps novels. When one of Stine’s books is unlocked a chain reaction of calamitous events begin. The foursome (Zach, Hannah, Champ, and Stine) must figure out a way to relock the books and save their town.
What parents may like about this movie: Parents will dig Jack Black’s quirky and clever performance as R.L. Stine. I also appreciated that one of the larger themes of the film was “working as a team to problem solve”. Some parents may appreciate going to see a non-animated family film…
What kids will like: W really liked the thrills and scares. His favorite character was the Werewolf because, “he wasn’t as scary” (as I told him it could be). There is another scene in the movie that involves a gelatinous blob that he loved as well.
Concerns: When W and I first saw the trailer for Goosebumps over the summer I was shocked my guy wanted to see it. I didn’t consider him a thrill/scare kind of kid yet and I had concerns it might be TOO scary. I decided the best way to address my concerns was to see the film, on my own, in advance of taking him.
It was the BEST decision. (and after seeing the box office report for Goosebumps’ opening weekend I wonder how many other parents pre-screened the film for their kids as well!)
I will confess to being a total flincher and shrieker during scary movies. Those violin moments that make you jump? Well I fall for them every single time. I did a lot of jumping and flinching (in a thankfully empty theater at a 10:00am showing) watching Goosebumps.
After the film ended my first thought was, “there is NO WAY I am taking my six-year-old to see this.” I decided to talk to my son about the film and see what he thought. Our conversation went a little something like this:
Me: It’s pretty scary, kiddo.
Kid: Who is the scarriest?
Me: The werewolf is right up there…
Kid: Oh him?! I know him. I saw him on the trailer.
Me: There is also this dog..
Kid: Yup – saw it on trailer.
Me: Ok, but it might make you jump.
Kid: I think I can handle it.
Me: And if it gets to be too much?
Kid: I’ll ask you if we can go.
When my family and I went to see Goosebumps together the next day I reminded W again that at any time he could tell me we needed to go.
Bottom Line: HE LOVED IT. For a moment I felt like I had over-worried all of this, but at the end of the day I am very glad I saw the movie before taking my kid. I take the concept of PG (parental guidance) pretty seriously. Just because a film is rated PG doesn’t mean my six-year-old is going to be ok with it. While my kiddo surprised me by loving the film and loving the thrill, some kids may not.
Positive themes: Work together, help your neighbor out
Violence/scare factor: There’s an angry abominable snowman, militant garden gnomes, zombies, a werewolf, a larger than life praying mantis, and the creepiest dummy ever – just to list SOME of the Goosebumps characters who are unleashed.
Sex/Romance: Two characters fall for each other in a sweet way, two other characters fall for each other in a sweet/comedic way, nothing to shield eyes over
Bad language: Can’t recall a single bad word
Win a $100 Fandango Gift Card!
Do you remember the first spooky film you saw when you were a kid? For me it was Something Wicked This Way Comes. There was this scene with spiders crawling…UGH!! Leave a comment telling me about your favorite spooky film or the character who looks the spookiest in Goosebumps.
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