Review: 'Hotel Transylvania' with Adam Sandler and Selena Gomez
If points could be awarded simply for having a ton of energy, then Hotel Transylvania would be one of the year's top animated films, bar none. But when all of that energy produces a film as empty and humorless as this, it kind of makes one wish it could have spent elsewhere. The second of three Halloween-themed animated movies in a month after ParaNorman and Frankenweenie, their creative brilliance and fun use of horror tropes only highlight just how disappointing Hotel Transylvania turns out to be.
There's a great idea here that goes completely to waste under a bland and unfunny script that will drive adults bonkers and maybe keep the kids occupied for a few minutes. One thing that can't be knocked about it is the animation from Genndy Tartakovsky, bringing much of the same inventive character design he brought to Cartoon Network's Samurai Jack and the 2003 version of Star Wars: Clone Wars(the better one by far). The colors are vibrant and pop off the screen in 3D, but the story bounces from chaotic to simple and never hits on anything memorable.
Adam Sandler gets another paid vacation to hang out with his buddies, putting on his old vampire voice from SNL to play Count Dracula, the manager of a hidden hotel reserved solely for monsters. After the death of his wife years before, Drac has been left an overprotective single dad, keeping his daughter Mavis(Selena Gomez) away from those pesky humans. But now it's her 118th birthday, and she wants to go out and see the world. After some fatherly trickery, Dracula manages to convince Mavis that all humans are evil, keeping her safe under his roof forever.
A "who's who" of classic movie monsters show up for the birthday festivities, and the most fun to be had comes from matching the characters with the voices. Kevin James plays Frankenstein, with Fran Drescher as his nasally wife. Steve Buscemi is the Wolfman who is saddled with a litter of hyperactive cubs. Cee-Lo Green is the Mummy, with David Spade fittingly as The Invisible Man. Dracula's plans are thrown into disarray when a clueless human backpacker named Jonathan(Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel thinking it's a tourist stop. Of course he and Mavis share a moment, or a "Zing!", and Drac has to find a way to suck the blood out of their budding romance.
Throwing a number of crazy action sequences and goofy moments at the wall to see what sticks, Hotel Transylvania is maddeningly all over the place. Interestingly, the humor is too juvenile to appeal to teenagers, while the message the film is trying to impart would be better suited to adults. So what you get is a story that probably won't appeal to anybody, and is probably best locked away in a coffin and buried.