If you think of Halloween as a week-long event or perhaps venture out to various Cosplay activities or can’t decide what to wear to your next Comic-con, this movie is for you. While not as clever as Tim Burton’s “Frankenweenie,” this Sony animated feature is fun family style despite a tendency toward low humor (pee and fart jokes).
This film is surprisingly cohesive considering it was written by committee: Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel, and Genndy Tartakovsky. Baynham co-wrote the 2006 “Borat: Cultural Learnings of America for make Benefit Glorious Nation of Kazakhstan” along with Sacha Baron Cohen, Anthony Hines and Dan Mazer. Smigel is the voice of Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog and was a writer for “Saturday Night Live.” He and Sandler along with Judd Apatow wrote the script for the Sandler vehicle “You Don’t Mess with the Zohan.” I’ve avoided both “Borat” and “Zohan” and “Hotel Transylvania” has done nothing to change my mind.
The movie runs at a frenetic pace, as if to keep the interest of children with ADD or on a sugar-induced hyperactive rush. The 3D computer-animated comedy is about a father and his daughter. That father happens to be Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) who daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) is turning 118. To celebrate the teen’s adulthood, the widowed Dracula is throwing a big bash at his resort hotel, Hotel Transylvania. The hotel is the place where monsters go for vacation where they can be themselves and not worry about judgmental humans trying to kill them or at least prevent them from roaming around earth. Invited to the party are Frankenstein ‘s monster (Kevin James), his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher), Murray the Mummy (Cee Lo Green) and the Werewolf family of Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (Molly Shannon) and their litter of freely peeing kids. The Invisible Man, Griffith (David Spade), also arrives as do legendary monsters such as Bigfoot and science fiction favorite, the Blob.
Dracula has promised that he’d allow his daughter Mavis the chance to fly out into the world (as a bat) and see humans. But being the over-protective parent, he has constructed a faux village and peopled it with his hotel staff of zombies, disguised as humans. They greet Mavis as a village mob set to torch her and burn her to death. She returns home, assuming that her father–who lost her mother to a real mob that way over a hundred years ago, is right about humans. Unfortunately, as the zombies return to the hotel/castle, someone follows them–a dude named Jonathan (Andy Samberg).
Because of his deception, Dracula attempts to disguise Jonathan as a relative of Frankenstein by painting his skin blue, but things get complicated because Mavis fills a “zing” which is something like love. Dracula wants to keep Mavis and Jonathan apart, while assuring his guests that humans cannot find the hotel.
You have to wonder how author Victor Hugo would feel about his creation, Quasimodo, the Hunchback of Notre-Dame, being portrayed as a blood thirsty gourmet chef with a taste for cannibalism and a pet rat named Esmeralda who is his human-detector. Quasimodo and Esmeralda are the villains because they threaten to blow Jonathan’s disguise.
Of course, true love will triumph or, in this case, Dracula will recognize the importance of having a “zing” in your life. That little problem of humans getting old and Mavis being over a hundred to Jonathan’s mere 21 is forgotten. Do you think he’ll be joining the family? Jonathan is made to be cool, but he’s the kind of meandering-in-lfe dude that skateboards but doesn’t have a solid goal in life (like how to earn a living).
So if you can forgive that and the reinvention of great literature into a fond parody of the horror genre turned into a father-daughter story, this animated feature should do just fine. It’s not perfect, but it is a must-see for monster movie fans, even if the soundtrack doesn’t include the “Monster Mash.”