Hotel Transylvania is the film for kids too afraid to see ParaNorman making it not terrible, just safe and predictable. The film isn’t a total wash due to an excessive amount of jokes, some good and some bad, and a charming story that’s sappy but fun. Most parents will want to give their kids a Halloween treat and for the young set, it works. Those looking for something older, smarter, and creepier would do well to see the aforementioned film above.
Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) opens up an invisible hotel for various monsters and to also keep his young daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) safe from humans. When a human named Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg) accidentally shows up and falls for Mavis, Drac will have to find a way to keep the two apart before the hotel’s residents discover a human in their midst.
Again, Hotel Transylvania doesn’t offer anything new to the genre but it does work by using the tried and true formula of beloved characters meets a charming story. The father/daughter relationship between Dracula and Mavis is sweet and there’s a lot of hilarity that comes from Drac’s attempts to keep his daughter in the hotel, particularly involving a village full of zombies. On the other side is the story of a young girl falling in love which isn’t that fun or engaging but the film is light enough that it doesn’t get bogged down in the romance. You also have the various classic monsters who all have some funny moments, particularly Quasimodo (voiced by Jon Lovitz). The script, a join effort by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel is filled with jokes, some work and some don’t. There’s bathroom humor and slapstick for the kids and a few jokes that really connect with adults. My favorite involved Dracula telling Jonathan he didn’t like him because Jonathan’s human only to have the boy retort “that’s racist.” The animation isn’t that good but with Quasimodo there’s a lot of creepiness and the film is alive with colors that pop on the big screen.
The voice cast is pretty standard and you know it’s an Adam Sandler movie due to all his friends lending their vocal “talents.” Sandler continues his shtick with the funky accent of Dracula and after a few minutes of hearing it, you almost forget its Sandler at all. The other actors aren’t given much to do so Kevin James, David Spade, and Lovitz don’t really make much of an impact other than audiences knowing their presence is in the film. Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg are sweet but Samberg’s surfer boy voice is starting to stagnate.
The problem is that Hotel Transylvania is just too safe, akin to Dracula’s fear for Mavis’ safety. All the beats are expected and after seeing what can be accomplished with animation with PIXAR and Laika Studios, the animation in this film is too cartoony and sub-par for discerning audiences.
You won’t recall Hotel Transylvania by the time the next animated film comes around (and it won’t be long). It’s a sweet Halloween film for small children who enjoy bright colors but I wouldn’t recommend this to anybody older than 10 years old.