Friday, October 30, 2015

Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Hotel Transylvania (2012) directed by Genndy Tartakovsky

Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) has a daughter he wants to protect from all the horrible humans in the world, so he has a special castle built out in the middle of a spooky woods where no sensible human would ever go. The castle is also a hotel that welcomes all monsters. It's a safe retreat from the real world. Every year he holds a birthday party for his daughter Mavis and invites all his monster pals to come celebrate. This particular party is Mavis's 118th birthday--she's old enough to drive a hearse and wants to explore the rest of the world. Dracula knows how dangerous it is, so he constructs a fake village near the castle and has his hotel workers (who are zombies) masquerade as despicable humans to scare her into not going any further into the real world. The plan works, except a plucky young human hiker named Jonathan spots the village and follows the zombies back to the castle. When he walks in the front door, Dracula has a problem--if his guests discover a human at the castle, it's the end of Hotel Transylvania. A second problem develops--Jonathan (disguised as a monster) and Mavis hit it off. What could be worse?

The plot unfolds in a predictable fashion as Dracula goes through various shenanigans to keep the secret about Jonathan and break up the romantic feelings developing between his daughter and a human. The movie is aimed at children, so perhaps it isn't so bad that the plot is obvious. I found it a bit uninteresting and started noticing other things, like scenes that were clearly designed as 3D, which are less impressive in 2D. Or Adam Sandler's performance, which is lackluster. Dracula runs into several people who say, "You're Dracula, so you say 'bleh, bleh, bleh!'" which he vehemently denies, though he exhibits every other Dracula cliche (except for the sexiness, thankfully).  There wasn't anything particularly memorable or interesting about any of the other monsters or the few humans in the story.

Maybe all of this would have been less noticeable to me if the characters were more endearing or the movie had been funnier. BBC film reviewer Mark Kermode has a "six laugh test" for a comedy. I'm sure I didn't laugh six times, but the children I saw it with (at the kids' school) laughed more than I did. A few risqué jokes are thrown in to entertain the grown ups but I didn't hear any grown ups laughing at those.

This movie was a disappointing to me. I was expecting more creativity or maybe a more daring theme than "tolerate others who are different from you." If you want a kid-friendly horror animated movie, there are plenty of better ones like Coraline, The Nightmare Before Christmas, or Halloween is Grinch Night.


  1. Tolerate others who are different from you is the only underlying theme I've ever seen from these movie makers. Which is not much to hang an entire movie on and makes them quite disappointing.

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