Review: Hotel Transylvania

daniel cohen sinks his teeth into the new animated film…

Plot: Dracula (Adam Sandler) runs a hotel in Transylvania strictly for monsters only. But when a human (Andy Samberg) shows up, Dracula becomes paranoid about protecting his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), despite the human’s good intentions.

This movie scared the shit out of me not because of all the monsters running around, but because Dracula looks exactly like Adam Sandler. I don’t know why, but the insanely close likeness really freaked me out. Putting my neurosis aside though, Hotel Transylvania is a nice little kid’s movie, but the groundwork was definitely there for something much greater.

The idea of monsters hanging out together at a hotel in present day is a funny concept. And while all the characters are likable and voiced well by the comedian heavy cast, it was definitely missing some sort of jolt. And what really irked me was the arrival of all these characters. There’s literally a 10-15 minute scene of all the monsters coming into the hotel and being introduced like a guest on the Tonight Show. ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, it’s the Invisible Man, voiced by David Spade! And now joining us, Kevin James, playing the part of Frankenstein! Round of applause!’ These guys could have come into the picture in much more clever ways.

The voice acting is pretty strong though. Adam Sandler does a very Adam Sandler like voice, but it works well for Dracula. Although the highlight for me was probably Steve Buscemi as the understated wolf, Wayne. But even with all the great voice talents, these guys are playing run of the mill middle aged men who just happened to be monsters. The whole idea is that humans were responsible for the death of Dracula’s wife, Martha (Jackie Sandler), so Dracula is paranoid about keeping humans out of his hotel, and all his monster buddies follow suit. To be honest, I think this could have been hysterical if all the monsters were obnoxious party animals, and a random cranky old human moved next door and got fed up with all the noise and tries to stop them.

But this is a kid’s movie, and even though the supporting characters are pretty ‘meh,’ the heart of the story between Dracula and his daughter Mavis does hit you pretty hard. It’s a simple little story about an over protective dad that touches on a few adult themes here and there, with an especially touching scene where Mavis opens her long over due late mother’s birthday present. But they keep everything pretty light, and there isn’t a chance to really delve into this, so the movie meanders quite a bit, and often becomes pretty boring without any great secondary characters to save it.

Now I can handle mediocre characters, but what I won’t stand for are consistently irritating characters. The human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) is infuriatingly annoying. He’s got that hippy/surfer type voice making him pretty insufferable. And this is the character your supposed to buy into the most…no thanks. Jonathan is the type of character who normally shows up in one or two scenes in a film, with maybe three lines of dialogue, and even that’s pushing it. But here, he’s practically in the whole movie…Oy vey. This character needed to be totally re-written.

The comedy is also pretty forgettable. It’s never terrible, but I can’t remember one hearty laugh. There are a few clever scenes involving the Blob and a Bingo game, but much like the characters, it’s a dry feast of mediocrity.

Hotel Transylvania is perfectly enjoyable and visually pleasing, but the foundation was greater then the final product. This had potential, and the voice actors put in a good effort, but there just wasn’t much of a script to work with. It’s a solid kid’s movie though, even if it does commit the kid movie sin of having an annoying sing along performance at the end.

Rating: 6 out of 10 (‘meh’)

Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.