It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
It is so easy to go wrong with what appears to be a great concept on paper. You have the names of some of the most feared characters of all time – and make a movie on them that is funny. Hotel Transylvania, thankfully, translates on to the screen quite well, with characters like Dracula, Frankenstein (and his wife Eunice), werewolves Wane and Wanda with an entire bunch of kiddie werewolves to boot, Murray the Mummy and Invisible Man making this one laugh fest that children and adults will enjoy to the hilt.
The story of the film begins with Dracula (Adam Sandler) building an ultra-luxe resort for these feared creatures where they can vacation in peace away from prying humans. Dracula, though, has a private interest behind the creation of the resort, called well, Hotel Transylvania, one of which is to protect his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) from ever venturing out into the real world.
Tragedy, along with dollops of comedy, strikes when a young backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel just as Dracula gets his guests ready for Mavis’ 118th birthday. To make matters worse for Dracula, Mavis and Jonathan have a ‘zing’ that makes it difficult for him to get rid of Jonathan easily.
You can see the emotional appeal of the film clearly. An overprotective father who always thinks his daughter is young enough and must forever stay with him, a teenager who dreams of exploring the world and going to faraway places like ‘Ha-wee-wee’ (Hawaii) and everything else about growing up. Yet, the core theme of Hotel Transylvania is acceptability. Outcasts seek acceptability from humans, Mavis needs Jonathan’s approval and Dracula needs his friends wits around him.
Into this emotional mix, director Genndy Tartakovsky brings a whole array of comic situations primed to take advantage of Sandler’s affecting Dracula daddy character with fart jokes, doggy-style peeing etc. Tartakovsky, the man behind Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory on television and the story-boarder for the final action sequence in Iron Man 2 is no stranger to the visual world. The lushness of the animated environment is another strong point about the film. The castle that houses Hotel Transylvania, the details of the ‘main lobby’ and secret passageways shine with visual delight. The kinetic energy, where the characters zip through roads and even a plane, is another special feeling.
As for the characters, it is a delight to see Sandler’s voice work as Dracula. From doting dad to Mavis to the control freak owner of his hotel and red-headed angry flashes, Sandler turns Dracula into an accessible and affable personality. Most of the characters, though, are strictly on par. The jokes and one-liners may seem crude at places, but they never break the flow of the story. The 3D effect is generally neutralized and it isn’t used to scare (young) audiences as one would have imagined.
Hotel Transylvania is Sony Animation’s closest attempt to making a Pixar-like film. It gets its quirks and fun together and yet manages to hold you in its all-too familiar tale. Children will love it and adults, who know the back stories of characters like Frankenstein, Big Foot and Sandman among others, will revel in the slapdashness and humanisation of these characters.
Yes, the film lacks soul but it makes up for it by having a big heart. Definitely worth a watch.
Guylife Rating: ***
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