In director Genndy Tartakovsky’s movie, monsters live and breathe in the human world, only they’ve been pushed back into the shadows and left to fear for their lives rather than terrorising their neighbours. So perhaps the most fearsome character in folklore of all, Dracula, started a resort where they can feel free. Hidden deep beyond a haunted forest, zombie graveyards and bogey-trapped pathways lies Hotel Transylvania, a human-free safe haven where monsters travel from all across the globe to experience the Count’s luxury accommodation.
Bumper season before Halloween, Dracula has invited all of his friends to visit to help celebrate his daughter Mavis’ magical 118th birthday. But after a who’s who of monsters check in and mark the start of the festivities, an unexpected guest that arrives at the door too. Despite disguising human Jonathan as one of Frankenstein’s distant cousins, Dracula’s cover-up soon starts to spread thin and when Mavis and our newcomer quickly develop feelings for each other, so builds a bombshell that could leave him no option but to close the hotel for good.
Hotel Transylvania is a clever play on the character Dracula and how monsters might inhabit our world if there were real, but from veryearly on, it sets itself up a few hurdles it only just manages to clear. Executive producing the film, Adam Sandler’s fingerprints are all over it. Voicing the central characters with frequent collaborator Robert Smigel co-writing the screenplay and his buddies littered about the cast, at times the boys club is at risk of teetering the film over the edge.
Sandler does a reasonable job as Dracula but you always feel it’s him inside the CGI body, putting on a silly accented voice, rather than the character taking on a life of its own. Talents elsewhere are patchy at best with David Spade proving a real sticking point; the slimy TV star really kills what could have been an interesting monster in the Invisible Man. As the human who disrupts the party, Adam Samberg is the only real redeeming factor in Sandler’s army.
Having long cut his teeth on TV shows like Dexter’s Laboratory and Star Wars: Clone Wars, Genndy Tartakovsky does a good job of calming the ship. While the comedy is largely aimed at kids, with physical, slapstick humour dominating over overt humour in the dialogue, there are still moments for those out of high school to laugh about, often poking fun at the backpacker community with tremendous return.
It’s unfortunate the plot doesn’t try a little more as the linear narrative has perhaps been over-simplified. Filling the film out with thematic sub-plots, anything really, could have added some welcome depth as it’s all very predictable. There aren’t many set pieces to make the most of the scenario too, instead the monsters’ individualism is used for one-off gags.
And yet despite all the negatives, and despite the frustrating 3D, the film is still quite a lot of fun. Don’t expect a miracle, and your brain certainly won’t be challenged for the entire 91 minute space, but if a week off school is coming up, or you have Sunday afternoon free, kids will enjoy Hotel Transylvania, and it won’t bore the socks off adults too.