Movie Review: HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA

Release date: September 28, 2012
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Screenplay by: Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel
Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, CeeLo Green
Rating: PG; Running Time: 91 minutes

About three months ago, Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg co-starred in a bloodless flop of a comedy entitled That’s My Boy. But this time around, bloodless couldn’t be better as Sandler’s Dracula and Samberg’s Jonathan infuse all sorts of spirited zing into a 3D funfest that’s located through the woods and six feet under, straight on to the property of Hotel Transylvania.

It’s a monster mash-up of talent, from screenwriters Peter Baynham (Borat, Arthur Christmas) and Robert Smigel (known for his Saturday Night Live cartoon shorts), to director Genndy Tartakovsky (hailing from 20 years in television animation), to the comedic vocal work from the likes of Sandler and Samberg, as well as Kevin James, Fran Drescher and Steve Buscemi. Echoing the goofy sensibility of Sony Pictures Animation’s earlier work — the 2009 Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs – these animated comedies push the edges of the outrageous, all the while appealing to both adults and children.

Similar in theme from the recent re-release of Disney/Pixar’s Finding Nemo, this story is centered around an overprotective dad who’s trying to shelter his child from the big bad world. The switcheroo here is that in this case, Count Dracula (“Drac”) and all his monster minions perceive the humans as the evildoers, the ones who threaten their very existence. Heck, Drac & Co. are simply goodhearted creatures doing their best to get along, happy to find sanctuary in the 400-acre retreat that Drac built primarily to protect his only child Mavis (voiced by a spunky Selena Gomez). After a touching opening that sets the tone between a father and his little ghoul, with the baby Mavis blooming under Daddy Drac’s ever-watchful parenting, the plot zooms forward to the occasion of Mavis’ 118th birthday (commensurate with the significance of a human’s 18th birthday). Even though Drac is throwing a weekend bat-wing-ding for Mavis, inviting every A-list creature from near and far (Frankenstein, Murray The Mummy, Griffin The Invisible Man, Wayne The Werewolf, etc.), Mavis isn’t all that excited. She yearns to fly free, to discover the world all by herself.

The verbal works claw-in-glove with the visual as the movie unearths humor at every turn. The Invisible Man realizes he’s lousy at charades … [FOR THE FULL REVIEW + RATING, PLEASE CLICK HERE]

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