Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
If you are just here for the lowdown, let it be said that "Hotel Transylvania" is probably one of Adam Sandler's best in recent years. Genndy Tartakovsky's animated comedy film bears a lot of similarities to Sean Anders' comedy film "That's My Boy", which was also released this year, albeit without the repulsive elements, one of which is Sandler's face.
"Hotel Transylvania" tells the story of Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler), an overprotective father who ends up building Hotel Transylvania, a five-star resort and sanctuary for monsters that no human can ever discover, in order to protect his beloved daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez). However, his plans are ruined on Mavis' 118th birthday, when an ordinary young traveller named Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg), hapless stumbles upon the place, and now Dracula must use every means at his disposal to protect Mavis and the rest of the hotel's patrons from finding out about Jonathan.
Compared to most animated films, "Hotel Transylvania" does not try to pass itself off as anything more than a fun romp, and this is even emphasized by Jonathan in a scene where the boy tells Dracula off for not knowing how to have fun. Cue in the random pop songs ("Hotel Transylvania" even has a parody of Carly Rae Jepsen's "Call Me Maybe" titled "Call Me Mavy") and you have this 91-minute that feels a tad too long. This is because Genndy Tartakovsky's animated film derives its comedy not from clever jokes, over-the-top set-ups and payoffs like "ParaNorman" or relatable characters, but from Sandler's uptight control freak and overprotective father figure's journey towards becoming lesser extremes. As much as "Hotel Transylvania" strives to coast on the wackiness of the characters such as Frankenstein, Murray the mummy and Wayne the werewolf, they do not have the depth of character given to Dracula, which says a lot of the film.
The developing romance between Mavis and Jonathan is supposed to be the turning point of the film, but it is side-lined for a father-and-son relationship between Dracula and Jonathan instead. For obvious reasons, they have chemistry after their history from "That's My Boy", with Sandler playing a much nicer character this time round as a vampire father who only lives for his daughter, but does not want any harm to come to their human visitor. Plus, we are spared from Sandler looking like a douche or daft, which we have been subjected to one too many times. Meanwhile, the rest of the ensemble cast is wasted on pointless quips and shenanigans. There is nothing wrong with them, but when you have people like Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Cee Lo Green, Steve Buscemi and David Spade on board, you would think that they get more voice work other than making indignant exclamations such as "I have red hair!" says the Invisible Man, which would have more stock if only the jokes about his invisibility were less repetitive.
It is certainly baffling that many love Sandler so much so that they allow him to drag down the film's score and visuals. Compared to fellow animated films, "Hotel Transylvania" does not make use of their budget effectively, because there is no moment that stands out or makes you go "wow". To make things worse, despite being well-animated, one scene becomes as good as another because of the linear narrative, blending them all together into a colourful presentation that pass muster.
At the end of the day, there is not much laughter or real morals to be learnt from watching this, but the fact that it is an animated film and a Adam Sandler film that works makes it an accomplishment. If "Hotel Transylvania" were not so focused on engendering laughs, it might have developed a more heart-warming and compelling story and impressive visuals.Cinema Online, 20 September 2012