Boy meets monster, all ends well
Cast: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
In the new animated feature, Hotel Transylvania, Count Dracula is the doting single-parent who goes to great lengths to keep his daughter safe from the outside world.
The film, while playing off the “misunderstood-monster” theme, presents the Count as an overprotective father intent on insulating his teenaged, sheltered daughter, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez). In a type of reversal which has brought much amusement to audiences in the past, monsters of this film seek urgent refuge from humans — described as growing fatter each year, so as to overpower monsters, and wearing less clothing so as to leave them more nimble for the attack.
Fed by his relentless xenophobia (the reason for which becomes clear later in the film), the Count (voiced by Adam Sandler), builds a towering castle hotel set in the middle of a haunted forest, with a zombified outer perimeter to keep humans out.
Despite these measures, a happy-go-lucky human backpacker named Johnny (Andy Samberg), stumbles into the citadel and proceeds to play havoc with the Count’s carefully crafted life. His arrival also coincides with a party in honour of Mavis’ 118th birthday (apparently the first hundred years of a vampire’s life means little).
It does not help the Count that Mavis’ amorous eye quickly falls on the errant human visitor — setting the tone for much mayhem and entertaining calamity.
In a film intended for young audiences, Hotel Transylvania is best suited for teenagers, considering the many references to monster lore that will escape younger children.
Parents may have to spend some time afterwards explaining the legend of the Yeti, the Invisible Man and Quasimodo which is not exactly a bad thing.
But many of the jokes are also likely to be lost on younger viewers. For adults, the film produces a few chuckles and several smiles, and where the story winds towards predictability, it continues to be buoyed by stunning animation and some inventiveness.
In the end, the film runs on the classic “overprotective daddy” formula. Much of the film is undeniably entertaining stuff, although the sequences strain at times. What else can one expect from a “Monster Mash” setup?
There isn’t much depth of character here, but if you happen to be interested in 91 minutes of light, no-brainer entertainment, this movie is well worth the price of admission.