“A highly amusing and enjoyable film, and one that adults and kids can appreciate together...”
It's fair to say that Adam Sandler is going through somewhat of a rough patch – churning out consistently unfunny material for a number of years now. However he finally appears to be involved in something worthwhile, with a surprising return to form in Genndy Tartakovsky's Hotel Transylvania.
Sandler voices our lead role Dracula, who, following the death of his wife, has decided to bring up his only child Mavis (Selena Gomez) in his monsters-only hotel, detached and far away from any potential human contact. The hotel is a huge success amongst the monster kingdom, attracting the likes of Frankenstein (Kevin James) and werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi) amongst many others - all of whom are united in their fear of the human race.
However on the night of Mavis' 118th birthday – an occasion where she had been promised the opportunity to finally leave the hotel and explore the world – an estranged, benign teenage traveller named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) arrives at the hotel, leaving Dracula to figure out what to do with this potentially harmful human. If word spreads that Jonathan is in the building Dracula's reputation will be tarnished for good, but his daughters desire to have friends her own age (or within a hundred years, at least) gives her protective father somewhat of a predicament.
Sandler's films have become generic and unfunny of late, yet Hotel Transylvania has the feeling of his older, better productions. It's refreshing as it's different, something that certainly can't be said of his recent work. It's helped along by a witty script and a brilliant concept – that of all the celebrated, renowned monsters joining together under one roof, terrified of the human race. Monsters Inc. does bear somewhat of a similar premise, yet Hotel Transylvania brings enough originality with it in other areas to make it feel unique.
Underneath the comical aspects and the fact the supposedly frightening monsters are all completely harmless, there is actually a rather poignant story about a father facing up to his daughter growing up and becoming an adult. It's imperative to have a story that seems genuinely sincere as all of the greatest children's movies have underlying, earnest aspects. Another positive comes in the impressive animation – in a film that uses 3D animation well – certainly enhanced by the fact the often frustrating dimming that comes with wearing the glasses actually suits this feature. The film is set in the dark echelons of Transylvania after all.
There are negatives to be found within this feature however, mostly evident within the romantic storyline between Mavis and Jonathan, which simply comes across as being feeble and idealistic, as a romance that is difficult to fully believe in. That may sound pedantic given it's only a light-hearted children's film, but that isn't to say love can't be genuinely translatable within animation – just take Wall-E for instance, that portrays love about as sincerely as I can remember in film, and that's between two robots, neither of which are actually able to speak. Another annoyance comes in the terrible dance number at the end, which is certainly a shame to end an otherwise enjoyable film on, as the final act inevitably stays with you on the journey home. Okay now I'm being pedantic.
Nonetheless, Hotel Transylvania is a highly amusing and enjoyable film, and one that adults and kids can appreciate together. You can really only judge films such as this through the perspective of the target audience, and I can tell you for certain that I would have loved this film when I was a younger age. Then again I loved Flubber, so make of that what you will.