2012 was a very good year for those who wanted their animated movies with an extra touch of the macabre mixed in. ParaNorman and Frankenweenie may have been the films that held more appeal for the adults taking their children along, but Hotel Transylvania is no slouch either, despite taking a much broader approach to the horror elements.
The story is very simple. Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) decided a long time ago to make a hotel that would only ever welcome his monster friends. Creatures like Frankenstein (Kevin James voices the monster and fans will have to bite their tongue while they endure the incorrect naming of him), Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the invisible man (David Spade) and Murray the Mummy (CeeLo Green). All of the above, and more, arrive for their holiday at the hotel and are also looking forward to celebrating the big 118th birthday of Dracula’s daughter (Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez). Unfortunately, all could be thrown into disarray when a human (Andy Samberg) accidentally finds the hotel and wants to stay. Dracula hasn’t been in the company of humans for a long time and so he still believes them all to be dangerous, horrible beings, but maybe he can keep this one disguised long enough to avoid a panic in the hotel.
With its all-star vocal cast, cute designs and artwork that riffs on the easily recognisable archetypes of the horror genre and numerous easy jokes, including one or two fart gags, Hotel Transylvania plays out like a simpler, yet no less sweet, cousin of the great Mad Monster Party.
First-time feature director Genndy Tartakovsky does just fine with the material, written by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel, and pitches everything in a nice middle ground, veering between very stupid to nearly clever, but never throwing anything unpredictable at viewers.
Anyone put off by the mere presence of Sandler, James, Spade et al, never fear. They’re all very good here, having to stay within the confines of their character. Even Sandler’s Dracula voice is well above his usual selection of annoying character voices. Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg also do great in their roles, anchoring the movie with a sweetness and naivete that offsets the lunacy that goes on around them. Everyone seems to have fun and that comes across in the final product. As well as those already mentioned, there are also vocal performances from Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon and Jon Lovitz. Rob Riggle gets about two lines, but they’re fun moments, and Luenell and Chris Parnell also join the party.
I’m sure that nobody will go into this movie expecting something that will become a firm favourite or change their perception of animated movies, but this is a lot of fun from start to finish with a cast of memorable, colourful characters. Which is more than can be said for most Adam Sandler movies.
Hotel Transylvania is out now on DVD and Bluray and is well worth a purchase if you have kids to entertain or are just, like me, a big kid at heart.
DIRECTOR: GENNDY TARTAKOVSKY
WRITER: PETER BAYNHAM, ROBERT SMIGEL,
STARS: ADAM SANDLER, ANDY SAMBERG, SELENA GOMEZ, KEVIN JAMES, STEVE BUSCEMI, FRAN DRESCHER, MOLLY SHANNON, DAVID SPADE, CEELO GREEN, JON LOVITZ
RUNTIME: 91 MINS APPROX