September 27, 2012
Dominated by Adam Sandler's D-minus Bela Lugosi impression, the 3-D animated feature "Hotel Transylvania" illustrates the difference between engaging a young movie audience and agitating it, with snark and noise and everything but the funny.
Do yourself a favor. See instead "ParaNorman," a film of wit and wiles and a distinctive visual quality. Or see "Frankenweenie" when that opens next week. Or just see to your laundry. Honestly, staring at your laundry will be funnier.
Everything in "Hotel Transylvania" feels off, beginning with the familiarity of having Sandler (voice only this time) playing yet another smarmily overprotective father of a nubile teenage daughter.
In first-time feature director Genndy Tartakovsky's film, Dracula operates a swanky resort for his fellow outcasts and monsters, far from their human tormentors. His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez doing the voice) is turning 118, which appears to be 16 or 17 in human years. The hotel's annual guests, readying themselves for Mavis' bash, include The Invisible Man, Frankenstein, the Wolfman and his enormous brood, the Mummy ... who isn't in this thing besides Abbott and Costello?
Plot: Despite his best efforts, Dracula cannot keep his daughter from the wider world forever. Andy Samberg provides the voice of the backpacking interloper who stumbles on the castle and takes an immediate shine to Mavis, and she to him. Slowly, after various flying sequences of no importance to the story, Dracula comes around. There are wisecracks about genital shrinkage after a dip in the pool, and vampires working out of their "training fangs."
Sandler executive-produced the film, needless to say. It really isn't worth any kid's time, not even a kid brought up on too many hours of "Dexter's Laboratory," "Powerpuff Girls" and other manic disposables featured on director Tartakovsky's TV resume.
'Hotel Transylvania' -- 1 star
MPAA rating: PG (for some rude humor, action and scary images)
Running time: 1:31
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