Film Review: Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Fun for young and old

Todd Miller | Collegio Writer

If you took the charm and whimsy of Dr. Seuss and combined it with the eeriness and “gothicism” of Tim Burton, you would get something like “Hotel Transylvania.”
It’s always great when a movie reaches my high expectations, and “Hotel Transylvania” did just that. It didn’t excel beyond my hopes, but it certainly was as good as I had hoped.
“Hotel Transylvania” was built by Dracula (Adam Sandler) as a safe haven for monsters around the world to get away from the threat of persecution by humans. It was also built to protect his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), from the world he believed too dangerous for her.
Dracula has invited many monsters to the hotel to celebrate Mavis’ 118th birthday, including some famous movie monsters such as Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), their wives Eunice (Fran Drescher) and Wanda (Molly Shannon) respectively, the Mummy (Cee Lo Green) and Griffin, the Invisible Man (David Spade). But the hotel receives one unexpected guest: Johnny (Andy Samburg), the human. Dracula must get Johnny out of the hotel without anybody realizing he’s human, or else their safe haven is lost. Johnny’s expulsion becomes complicated when the monsters begin to enjoy his company, and more so when Mavis develops feelings for Johnny.

Dracula (Adam Sandler) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) in Genndy Tartokofsky's "Hotel Transylvania (2012, Sony Pictures Animation).

Dracula (Adam Sandler) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) in Genndy Tartokofsky’s “Hotel Transylvania (2012, Sony Pictures Animation).

The plot is clearly for kids and will have the occasional child-appeasing gag. Much of the music is too “popish” and “modern” for my tastes, and is overly used to the point that it prevents the film from having more story development.
However, the movie does a lot more good than bad. The plot is made simple enough that children can follow it, but it is still engaging. There are a number of characters, but each is fleshed out nicely, either with visual action or dialogue, but not in a way that detracts from the movie as a whole. No one part of the movie is dull. The writers and animators have been able to craft something that is able to keep up with itself throughout its runtime, without wearing down the audience with constant action and noise. Even without much going on, the film keeps itself engaged.
“Hotel Transylvania” is also available in 3D, but there’s no reliance on the effect in its visuals, as if the 3D were an afterthought once the scenes were designed.This is different from a movie like “Dredd,” which had clear scenes meant to show off 3D effects. “Hotel Transylvania” merely uses the 3D as an enhancement, rather than focusing entirely on it.
The film is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, and he clearly hasn’t lost his touch. I was able to pick up the same whimsical artfulness I have learned to expect from some of his older works such as “Dexter’s Laboratory.”
An important aspect in “family” genre films is the need to appease both young and adult audiences. The balance isn’t perfect and leans toward the younger audience, but they do a nice job of it. There’s some adult humor littered here and there, and grown-ups watching the movie are able to appreciate the lesson/theme of the movie beyond its application to monsters.
In all, “Hotel Transylvania” might not be the first choice of many moviegoers, as it may be too much of a kiddie movie, but I think it does well to support itself and can be enjoyed by younger and older audiences alike.

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