Hotel Transylvania (2012) Short Review (PG)
Hotel Transylvania is a little bit of a departure for Adam Sandler and while it won’t ever be confused with your average CG cartoon from Pixar or Dreamworks, it’s perfectly passable as family entertainment. I’m a horror fan, so anything featuring what amounts to the classic Universal monsters (and a bunch more) is going to interest me to some degree. It is very ‘commercial’ which isn’t surprising since that is what you typically get from an Adam Sandler film, but it was just likable enough to keep my attention. And nothing against Adam Sandler, he actually has been in some good movies (like Punch Drunk Love, 50 First Dates and Spanglish). I’d place this one somewhere in the middle of a Top 10 list of Adam Sandler films. It’s not high art, but there is a little imagination here for a kids’ movie and it has a few laughs. I liked the animation, also, but I think they could have tried a little more in designing the characters. This isn’t anywhere near the same class as those other two studios that I mentioned, but I respect the work put in this one.
The story revolves around Dracula, a vampire and single father, who has built a castle resort for the creatures of the night to get away from their human oppressors. Monsters are coming from far and wide to help celebrate the 118th birthday of Dracula’s daughter Mavis (played by Selena Gomez), but it’s something that dear old dad has been dreading.
He has regrettably promised that once Mavis reached ‘adulthood’, he would allow her to go out into the world and fears that something horrible will happen if she interacts with the world’s normal folks.
The extremely overprotective father has been crafting an elaborate plan to dampen his daughter’s excitement about the outside world. His plan seems to be working (much to Mavis’ chagrin), when horror of horrors, a real live human name Jonathan (andy Sandberg) shows up. Even worse for Dracula is that he appears to be an extreme sports enthusiast, talks like a surfer/stoner, plays in a band and of course Mavis takes an immediate liking to him despite not knowing what he actually is. That’s the basic setup, I guess: Dracula’s fears of the human world in a wrestling match with Mavis’ need to go out into the big world.
I figure most people will know where it’s going, but it’s still entertaining (at least for me it was). Sandler provides enough laughs as Dracula (aided greatly by the animators who seemed to be drawing from the vampire in that old Bugs Bunny cartoon). The daughter’s wide eyed innocence is adorably cute throughout and probably the best character in the film. There are also a few other voice actors that liven up the story.
Steve Buscemi as the put upon werewolf with far too many kids was a highlight. The zombies impersonating human oppressors (threatening to take Mavis’ candy were hysterical. I think there was even an ode to Phil Hartman’s Frankenstein skit from Saturday Night Live (it may have been unintentional but I think not).
I enjoyed it all. It wasn’t brilliant by any standard, but it wasn’t terrible, either. After seeing a string of terrible live action films recently, this (and the absolutely brilliant ‘The Pirates: Band of Misfits) was an animated breath of fresh air.