Starring Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez. Written by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Produced by Michelle Murdocca, Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel.
All of your typical Halloween gags (graveyards, bats, mummies, etc.) combined with childish jokes and slapstick humor tell a formulaic but satisfying story in one of three spooky animated movies this year. Some of Hotel Transylvania's material works and some of it doesn't – the creepy characters and detailed castles and graveyards do, where fart jokes and ill-timed comments don't. A coming-of-age story, this film uses the same setup as Finding Nemo with Count Dracula (Sandler) suffering a tragic event in the past, making him prejudice towards humans and an overprotective father to his restless daughter, Mavis (Gomez) who wants to explore the human world. This all changes when Jonathon (Samberg), the travelling student with a perpetual foot in his mouth stumbles upon the hotel by chance and flips everyone's perspective upside down.
While we've seen most of these characters before – the overbearing father and the claustraphobic daughter, we haven't seen a character that's charming in the same way Jonathan is. Without ever overstepping his boundaries or swaying anyone in one direction, he manages to pull everyone together and inspire them with his endearing dim-witted personality and free-spirited surfer dude attitude. The script gets away with being juvenile, as it's a kid's movie, but some of the jokes will leave you scratching your head for days if you attempt to understand them – Frankenstein's beheaded body farting in the hotel lobby accurately describes the calibur of the film's most sensible gags.
3-D showcases some of the dark scenes nicely, particularly those in the abandoned town and graveyard, but is wasted on the majority of the movie. And while the inclusion of Dracula, Frankenstein and the invisible man in one movie is a promising concept, it's downplayed by a tired storyline that doesn't offer a new twist or idea like what we saw with animated movies like How to Train Your Dragon and Up. Doubtful that a child will make this distinction, Hotel Transylvania succeeds in telling an entertaining and passible story that they'lll love, especially around this time of year. —Rebecca Hillary