Hotel Transylvania is both a surprise and a disappointment at the same time. It is surprising because the cast of Adam Sandler, Kevin James, David Spade and the rest of the Happy Maddison group manage to squeeze out some entertainment this time around. It is disappointing because the film is a fairly decent, but not remarkable directorial debut of animation legend Genndy Tartakovsky. Either ways, it’s a passably fun ride for kids, and for some, that’s what matters in the end.
Mashing together a vast array of classic movie monsters, Tartakovsky introduces us to the Hotel Transylvania where all kinds of famous ghouls and ghosts chill out and recreate. The place is managed by Dracula (Sandler) who is extra protective of his ghostly tenants after losing his wife to humans. There’s the Mummy (CeeLo Green), the invisible man (David Spade), the Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), Frankenstein (Kevin James) and other eminent monsters who frequent the place to de-stress from the human world. Dracula’s problems arise when his daughter (Selena Gomez) gets inquisitive about seeing the world and meeting humans, and hell breaks loose when she develops a crush on a boy named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) who arrives at the hotel looking for accommodation.
It becomes a reasonably enjoyable jaunt as Tartakovsky just about manages to place the jokes ahead of the stars, although Sandler does his best to make his character more like Sandler doing an imitation of Dracula, instead of being Dracula. You won’t find anything here as devilishly great as A Nightmare before Christmas, but some of the gags do work, especially if you’re (mentally) a twelve year old. Sadly the film is rife with plenty of clichéd Hollywood themes like the overprotective father and a rebellious teenager that simply demand to be forgiven by its audience. The jokes are mostly hit and miss, with some weird indulgence on body horror early into the film, quite a letdown considering co-writer Peter Baynham was responsible for the hilarity in Borat. The 3D doesn’t really add to the charm and it just diminishes the beautiful artwork on display. Hotel Transylvania would amuse kids. Adults, on the other hand, would be happier to fire up the DVD player and enjoy Tartakovsky’s earlier works like Johnny Bravo, Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack.
(First published in MiD Day)