Movie Maniac

September 30, 2012

A pleasant stay at ‘Hotel Transylvania’

Dracula is alive and well — and sounds like Adam Sandler with a Bulgarian accent.

Dracula is alive and well — and sounds like Adam Sandler with a Bulgarian accent.

Sandler does indeed voice the count in “Hotel Transylvania,” a pleasant animation that will appeal to younger viewers. It could have been funnier, but parents will eventually find enough to be entertained through constant sight gags and nods to movie monsters of years gone by.

Drac runs Hotel Transylvania, which is nestled far away from the human world, a haven for other monsters and their families where they can be themselves without scorn from those nasty, evil humans.

Drac’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) is about to turn 118, so he has organized a knockout birthday weekend for her and invited his favorite guests.

Among those checking in are the Invisible Man (David Spade), Frankenstein (Kevin James), and the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and his family. They are welcomed by the hotel’s skeleton staff (literally), zombies who clean their rooms, shrunken heads as door handles and Quasimodo the cook (Jon Lovitz) and his rat pal.

It’s apparent right away that Drac is overprotective of Mavis. But she wants to see the world, go beyond their castle. So Drac lets her, but leads her to a fake town that he has set up so she’ll not ever want to leave again.

She returns and tells her father that he was right about those awful humans, and vows never to leave.

Drac is happy. Everything is grand. But then nerdy backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) accidentally stumbles into the hotel.

Drac must hide Jonathan’s identity as a human for fear of chaos, so he makes him wear a monster costume. Suddenly, Jonathan becomes a hit with the other monsters, who think he livens up the party. And then Jonathan meets Mavis and they “zing,” which apparently means they really, really like each other.

But Drac will have none of it. Especially with a lowly human!

He tries to get Jonathan out of the picture while keeping Mavis happy. But things get complicated when it’s revealed that Jonathan really is human.

There are scattered laughs throughout, but mostly chuckles. And the humor can be adolescent (Frankenstein passes gas) but harmless.

The look of the film is striking, although it doesn’t rival Pixar films. There are some nice touches, though (Jonathan’s hair looks real).

Messages of acceptance are explored throughout, so the film has good intentions. Even if it does later take the easy road to a group hug.

The third act gets some zing of its own, though, as the monsters search for Jonathan in a town that is having a monster festival. They find that they’re worshipped and liked. Humans aren’t so bad after all! (Insert that group hug.)

Overall, “Hotel Transylvania” is a breezy, fun twist on the monster lore, even if it lacks a little bite.

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