“Goosebumps” a CGI-Laden Mess

imageRob Letterman’s Goosebumps (D) joins this summer’s Pixels in a series of kids’ films that value effects over imagination. Jack Black plays R.L. Stine, reclusive author of the titular young adult book series. With a vaguely academic accent and face frozen on “concerned,” Black provides a performance only slightly more irritating than Slappy the vaudeville dummy, the worst doll antagonist since the last installment of Child’s Play. Teen actor Dylan Minnette is slightly more expressive and makes the film’s first thirty minutes a bit charming before he accidentally unleashes a potpourri of blandly designed CGI monsters trapped in books. The filmmakers cynically leverage a popular kid lit franchise to lure a big crowd to the box office, but it’s all an auto pilot triumph over creative inspiration.