Hotel Transylvania Movie Review
Hotel Transylvania is light on story, but it’s an entertaining Halloween film the whole family can enjoy.
Is it just me, or has there been some kind of paradigm shift when it comes to holiday-themed movies? I mean, there have always been films specifically geared towards Halloween, but it seems like there have already been many themed towards the spooky holiday instead of Christmas – the normal Hollywood standby. ParaNorman was a great start to this trend of creepy cinema, and then Sinister, Frankenweenie and Paranormal Activity 4 could be very promising in the Halloween line-up. For now, we have Hotel Transylvania, the newest animated endeavor from Sony Pictures Animation. They’ve dazzled audiences in the past with Open Season, Surf’s Up (my personal favorite) and their loose adaptation of Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, and now this film seems to ooze freshness due to its unique and kid-friendly plot. I mean, who doesn’t love the idea of Dracula running a hotel for monsters to stay at? In the end, does Hotel Transylvania do its job at entertaining moviegoers of all ages with its goofy (but nonetheless affectionate) depiction of classic movie monsters?
Over a century ago, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) began construction on a castle called Hotel Transylvania. In an ideal world, this would be the place that all monsters from all corners of the earth could come to for sanctuary. After all, humans don’t know that monsters are actually as scared – maybe even more so – of the humans rather than just vice versa. However, the true reason why Dracula has Hotel Transylvania built is so that he can protect his young daughter Mavis. One might say that he is an overprotective father, but he is still a very loving one and would do anything to keep herself. Fast forward to the present day, and now Hotel Transylvania is bustling with activity as all kinds of monsters are coming to celebrate Mavis’ 118th birthday. What’s so special about this birthday is that this is the age in which Mavis (Selena Gomez) can finally leave the castle and explore the world; in other words, she is finally an adult in monster years. However, a couple of days before the festivities begin a 21-year-old, naïve hiker named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) shows up at the castle. Although he is horrified by his presence, he decides to keep him around and disguise him as a monster while also keeping a secret from Mavis…
The idea of monsters being afraid of humans isn’t exactly a new one (doesn’t anyone remember Monsters, Inc.?) Still, the premise seemed unique and the voice cast has enough comedic talent for me, so I gave Hotel Transylvania. While it is not exactly a great film by any stretch of the imagination, it’s nowhere near as bland as most critics have been making it out to be. In fact, I was surprised that I was actually entertained by this movie. This is notable for being another one of those movies released this year that features an ensemble of iconic characters; examples obviously include The Avengers and The Expendables 2, and later this year Wreck-It Ralph and Rise of the Guardians will certainly spoil us. Hotel Transylvania is of course among those films because it essentially brings together spoofed versions of classic monsters and shows us how they are all related to each other in some way. It’s fun to see how the writers interpret these characters in a modern context, and all of them are just great to see in cartoonish, exaggerated ways.
Now, I quickly want to touch on some of its narrative flaws, because they are mainly what drag this film down. First of all, Hotel Transylvania is very predictable from start to finish. We are introduced to Dracula and Mavis in a pretty tender way, but after that there are no true surprises in the story. To build upon that, the story is nothing that hasn’t already been seen on film, especially the aspect of a romance between a human and a vampire (you know what I’m talking about). The last main problem with Hotel Transylvania is that if you are reading this review, chances are that you are not the target audience. This film was clearly written with children in mind, so the somewhat thinly-written narrative didn’t offer enough depth or thematic resonance to affect me quite like Brave and ParaNorman did earlier this year. In short, Hotel Transylvania is a movie for kids, and I completely understand why a lot of adult moviegoers wouldn’t like this. Nonetheless, I still found it quite entertaining since I try to see every film with an open mind, and while the script is lightweight in substance, it is often clever as far as humor is concerned. Sure, of course there is toilet humor in this film, but sometimes it’s so obnoxious and random that I actually found myself busting out in laughter. There are some witty lines of dialogue in the mix as well, but ultimately the film remains funny and entertaining due to its energetic pacing.