Hotel Transylvania is synecdoche of Halloween: Plenty of excitement leading up; laughs while it’s going on; and you’re left with an empty, dissatisfied hunger for something of substance. Director Genndy Tartakovsky’s comedic sensibility and skill with animation helps the flick transcend the mediocre script, penned by former SNL writer Robert Smigel. As hollow as a Jack O’Lantern, Hotel Transylvania entertains but once you’ve visited there’s no reason to return.
Dracula (Adam Sandler)—some centuries ago—created a place where assorted monsters could escape the terrors of the world: humans. His daughter (Selena Gomez), celebrating her 118th birthday, lives a sheltered existence having never left the confines of the hotel. But as she comes of age the little vampire wants nothing more than to explore the world (something her overprotective father fears will cost her life). The film’s wacky hijinks come as Drac tries to cover up the wayward human who stumples upon the hotel, trying to keep his facility’s human-free reputation—while the boy falls madly in love with the vampire’s daughter.
There are some very funny gags in Hotel Transylvania and director Tartakovsky plays with his monsters in a family friendly, inoffensive manner. The animation is stylish and the 3D subtly implemented to enhance the visuals without distracting.
Where Hotel Transylvania comes up short is providing anything original beyond its core concept. Given a chance to play with classic characters in a world where the rules of physics don’t apply we’re given a movie that is nothing special. Filled with sight gags for the kids and plenty of slapstick humor, this frenetic film vibrates nonstop without every stretching or challenging. Entertaining pandering, sure, but the simplicity is offensively bland.
I laughed at the appropriate times during the breezy Hotel Transylvania but it provided nothing terribly memorable in the end. A cool concept that turns into a simple movie, HT is worth seeing in 3D with the kids but there’s no reason to book a return trip.
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