Review: Hotel Transylvania
(This review was originally posted on September 17th, as part of the TIFF)
PLOT: After losing his wife to a vicious human mob, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) starts HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, a refuge for holidaying monsters. On his daughter Mavis' (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday, Dracula invites his pals Frankenstein (Kevin James), The Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), Murray the Mummy (CeeLo Green), and Griffith the invisible man (David Spade) to come party- but when a human backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) arrives, and sparks fly between him and Mavis, Drac's hotel is put in jeopardy.
REVIEW: There's no mistaking that HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is strictly kiddie fare. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky (THE CLONE WARS, SAMURAI JACK), this is an inoffensive piece of fluff that's obviously geared towards the same crowd that made DESPICABLE ME, and THE LORAX hits. And on that level, I'm sure kids will eat this up, as the TIFF Kids screening I was at went over like a house on fire.
But, what of regular Adam Sandler fans? HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA strikes me as less an animated version of Sandler's kiddie hits that something different, which is probably a good thing considering how bad his movies have gotten lately. He does his best Bela Lugosi as the Count, and seems to be having fun camping it up as the centuries old vampire with a dislike for human blood.
Of course, this is very clean, G-rated fare, and other than lots (and I do mean lots) of animated farts, don't expect much of his gross-out humour (this is no EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS- thank God). Rather, it borders on the saccharine as he plays the over-protective parent to his modern daughter, appealingly voiced by Selena Gomez. Andy Samberg, as the backpacking teen Jonathan, goes all-out to get laughs, and he's fine, but more than a bit annoying throughout, and I'm not sure if his appeal withstands the transition to animation.
The best part of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is the regular Sandler grew as his monster buddies, with Steve Buscemi being particularly amusing as the henpecked wolfman, and Spade as the quick to be offended Invinsible Man. Former SNL cohort Jon Lovitz also pops up as the hotel chef Quasimodo- aka, The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
It's kinda tough for me to give HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA a fair review, as I'm so obviously not the target demographic for this film. I'm certain the kids will like it, but other than a few funny gags- and the creature design (reminiscent of the old Universal Horror series), their parents will be hard pressed to differentiate it from any of the other CG-animated toons out there. But- the fact remains that it's still head and shoulders above anything Sandler's done since FUNNY PEOPLE, which again, just proves how bad his movies have gotten. This is the best Sandler movie in years, but that's faint praise.