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Hotel Transylvania

2012 | 91 min | PG | 1.85:1

Hotel Transylvania


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User reviews

1 user review

Movie appeal



Theatrical release date

 28 September, 2012
 12 October, 2012

Country of origin

 United States

Technical aspects

3D (native)

Box office




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Hotel Transylvania


Screenshots from Hotel Transylvania Blu-ray

Hotel Transylvania Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, September 27, 2012

There’s a polar opposite difference between the gloriously elastic animation of “Hotel Transylvania” and its wretched screenplay, and it’s a heartbreaker to see such a wonderful premise torpedoed by a lack of storytelling consideration. A rare foray into spooky business for family audiences, the feature contains such promise that it seems almost impossible to screw up in a major way. Enter Adam Sandler, who brings his low-brow sense of humor to this monster mash, endeavoring to appease adults with a moldy tale of father-daughter strife, while he looks to tickle kids with bodily function humor. Although it’s a shame that “Hotel Transylvania” is so persistently crude, true disappointment emerges from the exceptional cartoon craftsmanship of the movie, which is wasted on ghastly writing.

Having lost his wife to vicious human panic long ago, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) is determined to protect all monsters from harm, building a resort that caters to stressed-out spooky types, including mummy Murray (CeeLo Green), invisible man Griffin (David Spade), wolfman Wayne (Steve Buscemi), and Frankenstein’s Monster (Kevin James). Protecting his beloved daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) for over a century, it’s now time for the adolescent vampire to grow up, leaving Dracula terrified about her desire to see the world. Constructing a plan to trick his girl into fearing humans, Dracula watches as his scheme goes up in smoke with the appearance of Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a daffy backpacker who’s miraculously wandered his way into the hotel. Attempting to disguise the human as a monster to prevent catastrophe, Dracula watches Mavis develop a crush on the visitor, further complicating his attempt to deceive his bloodsucking offspring and protect his paying customers.

“Hotel Transylvania” marks the feature-length debut for Genndy Tartakovsky, a beloved animation director who previously guided the original incarnation of “Star Wars: The Clone Wars” and the cult television hit, “Samurai Jack.” Tartakovsky comes to his latest enterprise with an enormous reputation for quality work, and, from a purely visual perspective, it’s easy to see why. “Hotel Transylvania” eschews Pixar polish for more of a Saturday morning cartoon appearance, favoring broad character designs and Hanna-Barbera sound effects to capture the zany world of the hotel and its myriad of occupants and their personal ghoulish manners, observing the antics of zombie bellboys, a hunchback chef, and guests that included skeletons, giants, and honeymooning fleas. It’s a lively movie, gifted a knowing pace by Tartakovsky, who instills the picture with stylish snap, pantsing the legacy of the famous monsters of filmland while contorting these icons into parental and vacationer roles, revealing domestication that’s only thinly disguising innate ferociousness. The effort is colorful and fabulously detailed, playful with bodily movement and screen tributes.

While “Hotel Transylvania” has ghouls galore, the only thing it didn’t need is a heart, especially with all these appealingly undead characters stomping around. Dracula’s arc of fatherly overprotection is woefully imagined by screenwriters Robert Smigel and Peter Baynham, with its melodramatic ways wedged clumsily into an exaggerated picture. Despite a plot that features numerous opportunities to track and study monster habits and testy guest interactions, “Hotel Transylvania” instead goes full Disney Channel, ignoring the delightfully itchy potential of the premise to labor over excruciatingly banal matters of trust and acceptance. There’s also potential with Dracula’s fear of humans, tied to the loss of his wife, but that’s left an undercooked, syrupy mess to lend the movie emotional weight it doesn’t need.

The film’s comedic ambition is perhaps most deflating of all, finding the screenplay dodging authentic jokes and thoughtful beats of comedy to dwell on fart humor and extended nose-picking gags. The writers often don’t have a clue what to do with the monsters, dreaming up uninteresting activities and punchlines, with see-through Griffin a particular bore, reducing the potential of the invisible man to a moment where the character powders his own rear post-shower to check out the view. 115 years of literary history and cinematic interpretation to draw from, and “Hotel Transylvania” can only dream up a butt-cheek joke.

In a feature that’s doing everything it can to come off approachable despite its horror-themed setting, the script’s sense of humor is genuinely frightening.

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Selena Gómez, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Andy Samberg
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

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