As a longtime Adam Sandler fan, I'll confess to a certain degree of relief that he's finally broken free from my wrath after his previous two sub-par outings, Jack & Jill
and That's My Boy!
isn't a brilliant animated feature, but it is a consistently entertaining one with Sandler's trademark silliness mixed with sweetness and an abundance of good heart. In the film, Sandler gives us his best Bela Lugosi imitation as Dracula, here portrayed as a more goofy than scary vampire who has holed himself up in an isolated mortal-free hotel with his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), and so many scary human tales that he's hoping his treasured daughter will never try to venture out into the human world.
Mavis arrives at 118-years-old, apparently that's the equivalent of human teen years, and begins to crave life outside of Hotel Transylvania
despite the fact that her annual birthday party is about to begin and guests like Frankenstein (Kevin James), Murray the Mummy (Cee-Lo), Fly (Chris Parnell), The Invisible Man (David Spade) and others have gathered for the festivities. Much to Dracula's surprise, an unexpected guest arrives in the form of Jonathan (Andy Samberg), an adventurous and very mortal slacker dude who has managed to penetrate the hotel's seemingly impenetrable secured grounds.
While Hotel Transylvania
is offered in 3-D, for most audiences 2-D should be more than sufficient to appreciate the film's vocal work and lighter approached when compared to the recent offering Paranorman
and the upcoming Frankenweenie
from Tim Burton. Sandler likely knew he didn't have a chance in hell of coming off as spooky, so everything in this film that's co-directed by Genndy Tartakovsky and Jill Culton emphasizes heart and humor over anything remotely resembling horror. The story itself is rather predictable, but in the film Sandler is surrounded by his well known cast of familiars including David Spade, Kevin James, Andy Samberg and Steve Buscemi among others. The result is a film that may not be entirely fresh, but it sure is quite a bit of fun.
Sandler's vocal work occasionally dances a bit too closely to that of his Opera Man
skit, but for the most part Sandler avoids his tendency to create overly histrionic and distracting voices in favor of a fairly straightforward, even a bit bland, take on this overly protective father whose hilariously prone to literally turning red when forced to really protect his daughter. Selena Gomez does a nice job of Mavis, projecting a sort of gothic innocence that is downright adorable. Samberg's take on Jonathan isn't remotely groundbreaking, but it fits the character and his vocal work in scenes with Gomez is rather endearing.
The best vocal work in the film may involving some of the supporting players such as David Spade's Invisible Man and Cee-Lo's Murray the Mummy. Fran Drescher's also an outrageous hoot as the louder than life Eunice.
It almost goes without saying that critics aren't going to be kind to Hotel Transylvania,
because the film doesn't begin to tread any new ground in terms of animation, story or overall production values. However, this may very well be one time when general audiences should ignore the critics and, especially if Sandler's your thing, head on out to the movie theater and just have a good time with it all. With the exception of one slightly scary scene in a mock village, Hotel Transylvania
is tame enough even for small children and contains just enough humor to make it bearable for mom and dad.
© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic