Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Voices by Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, CeeLo Green, Jon Lovitz. (2012, PG, 91 min.)
REVIEWED By Marc Savlov, Fri., Sept. 28, 2012
Throwing a bunch of Universal classic monster archetypes into an animated film and then using a generic coming-of-age, father-daughter relationship as the linchpin might've seemed like a good idea on paper, but onscreen Hotel Transylvania is as generically vacant as Mrs. Bates' eye sockets. It's nowhere near as good as director Tartakovsky's early, groundbreaking efforts like Samurai Jack or The Powerpuff Girls; instead, it's Frankensteinian in its discombobulated state, part poorly penned monster-movie takeoff and part teen love story with a vampiric overlay. Tartakovsky and his team have assembled a monster movie that's a bland, lowest-common-denominator affair. Tykes will enjoy the popping 3-D and swirly colors, but adults will find their brains feeling "Abby Normal" in record time. Indeed, there's more honest, eye-watering emotional truths in James Whale's Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein than anything here.
The 118th birthday of Dracula's daughter, Mavis (voiced by Gomez) has finally arrived and the overprotective Drac (Sandler, mugging with his voice), now the manager of the "for monsters only" Hotel Transylvania, has whipped up what he believes is a sure-fire way to keep the antsy Mavis under his wing forever. When Jonathan (Samberg), a lost human backpacker stumbles stonily into the hotel, he's immediately passed off as the Frankenstein monster’s third cousin, six times removed. Needless to say, love (or, as it's inanely called here, "zing!") passes between the vampire’s daughter and the displaced skater dude, much to Drac's chagrin. Not a whole lot ensues that you haven't already figured out on your own.
What’s really irksome is the film's everything-and-the-witch’s-cauldron approach to the storytelling and the gags, hardly any of which elicit more than a sigh. Even Buscemi's werewolf is a dull compendium of sub-Abbott & Costello jokes, while the completely random use of the familiar Universal monsters appears to be nothing more than a seasonal marketing gimmick. Universal should sue for damages to the reputation of its classic movie monsters. Everyone else should head directly to the infinitely better, spookier, and altogether more inspired ParaNorman. As for Hotel Transylvania,, no need to put a stake in it – it's deadly dull already.