Thursday, October 24, 2013

Hotel Transylvania

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky.
2012. Rated PG, 91 minutes.

After the passing of his wife, Count Dracula (Sandler) is left all alone with his little girl Mavis (Gomez). To provide a safe haven for them and other monsters, he decides to build a hotel where only they can come while he and Mavis will never have to leave. Every year, all of their monster friends gather to celebrate Mavis’ birthday. This one is special because it is her 118th. Like normal 118 year olds, she wants to leave the castle and explore the world. She gets her wish, but thanks to a nifty setup by her dad, she finds out humans are every bit as rotten as he makes them out to be. When Dracula discovers a not-so-threatening human Jonathan (Samberg) on hotel grounds, he goes to great lengths to get rid of the unwanted visitor before Mavis and his guests find out.

Despite its use of just about every type of movie monster imaginable, Hotel Transylvania is really just a tale about an overprotective father and his daughter becoming an adult. It uses similar humor to what we’ve seen in other such movies, animated or not. It works, at times. It has more success with all the double-entendres it slips in. Most of these work fine as surface jokes for the kids, but also as slyly naughty bits for the parents in the audience.

The movie also works well when it is showcasing all of those monsters and making them as normal as possible. For instance, the werewolf (Buscemi) is a weary dad and husband with a boat-load of unruly kids; Frankenstein (James) is a big and strong but very insecure guy. His fragility epitomized by his literal coming apart at the seams. Our wicked witches provide hotel house cleaning. And on it goes. It puts characters we’ve known for a long time in a different light and has fun with it. Helping further, it effectively spoofs a number of traditional elements of monster lore. We get riffs on the seemingly endless number of secret corridors in movie castles and other such things.

Where parents and kids are likely to be most divergent in their opinions of this movie is when it shifts into manic musical mode. I’m sure the little ones will have a blast when Jonathan rocks out on the guitar, or raps, or when Dracula himself raps. For me, it came across as a reach for cool points with the youngsters that it didn’t need to make, not something organic to the story. It doesn’t help that during these scenes the characters are animated with the goofiest possible looks on their faces.

Musical numbers aside, for me at least, Hotel Transylvania is a fun flick. Even though it includes all the monsters, it never strives for kiddie horror. Still, it’s pretty slick with its inclusion of horror movie tropes. It even includes a moment or two that could almost be described as grisly (a pitchfork through a zombie’s head, for example). Our cast is also game. Adam Sandler does his best Bela Lugosi and even gets mocked for it. Steve Buscemi is perfect in his role, as are a number of others. If you’re looking for a Halloween appropriate movie for the children, this is a solid choice.

MY SCORE: 6.5/10


  1. My boy and I had a good time watching this. Enough adult style jokes to keep me interested. This might be the best Adam Sandler film in the last six years.

  2. You might be right about it being Sandler's best of the last six years, but that's not saying much. Hell, we can even go back 10 years and it still might be true. (Gun to my head, I'd probably pick Funny People, but this is right there)