Film: Hotel Transylvania

AS SHOWN with landmark features such as Up and Toy Story, a successful animated film is one that can be enjoyed by both adults and children alike. Unfortunately, Hotel Transylvania contains neither the excitement of Toy Story nor the emotion of Up.

The cast are no strangers to a gag, with such comedy superstars as Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg (of The Lonely Island fame), Steve Buscemi and David Spade, however, for the most part, a lifeless script lets them down. This may be in order to appeal to the younger audience, with physical comedy (e.g. fart jokes) being used throughout, something that brings cheap laughs amongst a younger generation but seems to alienate the adults. One could be forgiven for assuming that certain childish aspects of the film are the result of director, Genndy Tartakovsky’s, influence, with such past directorial roles as Dexter’s Laboratory and Star Wars: The Clone Wars.

The premise itself has much promise, Dracula (Adam Sandler), an overprotective vampire-father, builds a hotel where his “teenage” daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and other fellow monsters can live in peace and quiet, away from the human race. However, with the arrival of hitchhiker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and his daughter’s impending 118th birthday, Dracula’s idyllic life is threatened.

Sandler plays a competent Dracula; the problem is not in the delivery. Like many Adam Sandler movies, the concept has potential, yet, also like many of his films, it is the script that ultimately lets it down.This is not to say that the whole film is a disaster. Certain moments throughout have real comedy value. With the recent influx of vampire romances (see Twilight, Vampire Diaries), there is a definite goldmine in making fun of classic monster myths, of which Hotel Transylvania occasionally does.  An example of this would be when Jonathan asks if a stake through the heart kills a vampire, Dracula responds with “yeah, well, who wouldn’t that kill?”. Dracula’s taste for the dramatic also brings some genuine laughs when compared to Jonathan’s laid back attitude, thus becoming a satire of all the classic Dracula films. However, there are more tasteless jokes than tasteful ones and a particular joke where Dracula mistakes an iPod for a torture device feels like it has been done before.

That said, the voice work throughout is impressive, with Cee Lo Green playing a surprisingly good mummy and Kevin James fitting right in as Frankenstein. Steve Buscemi shines through as the deadpan Werewolf with too many little werewolf children to care for.

Comedy comes hand in hand with emotion, and this is where the film falls far short of the greats. The big mystery of Dracula’s dead wife doesn’t leave the audience caring and the relationship between Mavis and Jonathan, combined with the threat that Dracula poses to the relationship, just doesn’t hit the mark.

Hotel Transylvania, at the time of writing, has made $110,667,994, making it a serious hit, clearly with the younger viewers, and with fart jokes and ghouls galore, this is no mystery. However, for the older viewers with any respect left for Adam Sandler or the classic animated feature, stay well away.