Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
|Featuring:||Adam Sandler … Dracula (voice)
Andy Samberg … Jonathan (voice)
Selena Gomez … Mavis (voice)
Kevin James … Frankenstein (voice)
Fran Drescher … Eunice (voice)
Steve Buscemi … Wayne (voice)
Molly Shannon … Wanda (voice)
David Spade … Griffin (voice)
|Producer:||Sony Pictures Animation
Michelle Murdocca … producer
Adam Sandler … executive producer
Robert Smigel … executive producer
|Distributor:||Columbia Pictures, Sony Pictures|
“Where monsters go to get away from it all”
Sequel: “Hotel Transylvania 2” (2015)
Weary travelers are welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, although they will find that the hotel’s clientèle aren’t necessarily living it up. In fact, most of the staff are zombies, Frankenstein and the Mummy are among the most frequent guests, and the owner of said hotel is the master of the undead himself, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler). However, if you are a human, it is best that you look elsewhere, for Dracula is against humans altogether, warning his guests to be on the lookout for wandering mortals, who will no doubt invade the castle with torches and pitchforks should they discover its existence.
Dracula’s daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), is a little more open-minded, and, as the film opens on the morning of her 118th birthday (which makes her the human equivalent of an 18-year-old), she is eager for her father to make good on his promise to let her explore the world beyond the castle. Dracula has no intention of letting her very far and manages to create a fake village replete with fake humans to frighten her and convince her that the human world is dangerous and the castle is the best place for her to remain—forever. Unfortunately, Dracula’s diversion catches the eye of a lost young human, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), who stumbles into the hotel and endangers everything Dracula has tried to achieve, especially when his daughter forms an attraction towards the ungainly youth.
At first glance, it is clear that Dracula will never win an award for father-of-the-year. He purposely deceives his daughter, allowing his over-protectiveness to block Mavis. When Jonathan (whom he disguises has Frankenstein’s cousin, further deceiving his daughter, as well as his guests) proves to be more popular with Mavis and everyone else, he becomes jealous and acts even more selfishly. Dracula’s tragic past reveals why he is wary of humans and protective of his daughter, but eventually he is able to go past his selfish grief and see Mavis for what she is—a growing young woman who must eventually be allowed to make her own choices. He comes to risk everything, even his very life, to right the wrongs that he did to her.
So, “Hotel Transylvania,” content-wise, has some positive messages when it comes to parenting, especially in issues of trust, letting go and moving forward from the past, however the film is clearly created with children in mind. It rarely slows down long enough to let any of these messages sink in. It moves so quickly from scene to scene, with almost consistent and zany action in every frame, it is hard to focus on everything at once.
Furthermore, as is common with Sandler films, a lot of the humor is suggestive or gross-out. The Invisible Man is the subject of many jokes surrounding the fact that he is naked (at one point, his boxers are pulled down in a prank, the joke being he has no need to be embarrassed, because he is invisible, but his response is made unnecessarily crude). Another unneeded running joke involves the skeleton couple, when Jonathan inadvertently fondles Mrs. Skeleton’s breastbone and later stumbles upon her taking a shower. These would most likely go over kids” heads, but there are also several fart jokes and crude references to the fact that changing diapers in the Werewolf family is a messy affair, as they have several pups (we see one “watering” a chair leg). Slapstick humor is rampant (it reminded me of a Looney Tunes on steroids). A darker flashback moment does involve the past death of Dracula’s wife, which, while never seen, is strongly implied.
In the end then, “Hotel Transylvania” is a brightly animated film, which does play a lot with the concept of many well-known monsters in one place and does so creatively. The voice talents in particular are excellent, with Sandler making an exceptional Dracula, while Kevin James and Steve Buscemi steal the show as Frankenstein and Werewolf. Not all the humor is crude, and, in fact, a lot of the film is hilarious (a reference to the “Twilight” films is particularly timely). There are even a few touching moments (Mavis” first sunrise, bearing in mind vampires and the sun don’t mix). However, the film wallows too much in crudity to be truly recommendable, and its fast paced nature does little towards helping the character development. Families would probably be better off finding alternate lodgings.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.