Jack Black is the coolest dad on the planet, thanks to 'Goosebumps'

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Cast of "Goosebumps"

BY DONNA FREYDKIN

At home, Jack Black isn't the wittiest guy in the room. Not even close.

"Now, mom has taken ever. She's the funniest one," says Black, the father of sons Sammy, 9, and Tommy, 7, with his musician wife, Tanya Haden.

But thanks to his latest project, Black has earned major points with his kids. He plays the famous author in "Goosebumps," the big-screen adaptation of R.L. Stine's spooky tome, opening Friday and co-starring Odeya Rush as Black's daughter. The film features all manner of creatures, from a ventriloquist dummy to gnomes to the abominable snowman.

And yes, his children are fans.

"This is the coolest thing ever, to have a movie they love. They've seen it twice already," says Black of his film, which he made to a large extent "because my boys would love it."


There's even toilet humor in it, at least when it comes to the shoot. A particular scene that freaked out the cast was filmed at a cemetery. Going to the bathroom involved stairs, mood lighting, and a lot of darkness.

"It was a porta potty but they had to put it by the swamp. They needed it out of the way. It had to be by the fever swamp," says Black.

For Black, who's both a cut-up in person but also thoughtful, self-contained and quick-witted, the family that reads together -- well, reads together.

"My boys are just getting into reading now. We listen to 'Goosebumps' on tape. We listened to 'Night of the Living Dummy.' Sammy is into 'Captain Underpants.' Tommy loved this book we had called 'Library Lion' and of course, 'Dr. Seuss' is a big winner," he says.

Home is where Black, who broke out as John Cusack's crazy-intense friend in 2000's "High Fidelity" and starred as the renegade teacher in "School of Rock," checks the jokes at the door, to a certain extent. He'll leave the manic maneuvers to his animated alter ego, Po, in "Kung Fu Panda."

"I'm not putting on a show. The boys are putting on the show at home. They're theatrical and funny. There's a lot of playing and goofing off. Home is where I don't have to do that – I can be real and chill," he says. "The dinner table is kind of empty. We don't have the traditional 6pm, time for dinner, everyone gather around the table. It's more sporadic. We're eating here, we're eating there, it's catch as catch can."



He's also one-half of the music duo Tenacious D, which he credits with helping him find and hone his comedic voice. Until then, says Black, he was auditioning and waiting to be discovered. After forming Tenacious D in 1994 with his friend Kyle Gass, he began writing his own material. That's the key to making it.

"I consider myself very fortunate," says Black, but in hindsight, "I would have started writing earlier. I was waiting for someone to discover me and that's not the right approach. Start writing and making little movies. Start writing and telling the whole story. That's the really the best way."

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