Thursday, 20 September 2012


Sony Pictures
Now Showing

Just like bears, turns out monsters are just as afraid of people as we are of them. That's the conceit of Hotel Transylvania, the Adam Sandler exec-produced animated film, where the eponymous holiday accommodation facility, owned and operated by Count Dracula (Sandler), opens its doors to the ghosts, ghouls, werewolves and zombies of the world.

Hotel Transylvania acts as a sanctuary but it also doubles as a prison for Dracula's daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). On the eve of her 118th birthday, the adolescent is eager to experience the wider world but her over-protective dad wants to keep her close to home and hearse; going to great lengths to convince Mavis that humans are the real monsters.

Admittedly, the Count hasn't seen a real human since the birth of his daughter and the death of his beloved wife. That is until the gormless American backpacker, Jonathan (Andy Samberg) lobs into the lobby of Hotel Transylvania and decides he'd like to stick around, even upon realising there's no fancy dress party and that is indeed a skeleton woman, and, oh, that's Frankenstein (Kevin James) over there.

But Dracula can't wait to get rid of the interloper before his presence sets off mass panic amongst the creepy clientele, and more importantly before Mavis learns that humans aren't all bad and that her dad has been lying to her.

So Hotel Transylvania is essentially a tale of father-daughter relations; about growing up and letting go. It's also about not judging others by their appearance or the reputation that precedes them though it's more daffy than didactic.

Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, Hotel Transylvania is a sporadically fun affair which takes the scares out of the classic horror characters -- the Mummy (CeeLo Green), Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), the bride of Frankenstein (Fran Drescher), Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz) -- although doing very little with the voice talent assembled; Molly Shannon's wife to the Wolfman barely utters two lines.

Not surprisingly, it's Sandler who gets to sink his teeth into the majority of the action. With a not-too-thick East European accent and swinging wildly between doting dad and bat-sh*t crazy control freak, the comic actor who's not to my tastes, overcame any misgivings I initially had about his voicing of the iconic Count.

Sandler heir apparent, Samberg, is pretty funny, too, as the open-minded traveller who opens the eyes of Dracula, and wins the heart of his daughter.

I wouldn't have thought it possible but 2012 is proving to be an even less spectacular year for animated films than was 2011, which was highlighted by the truly wonderful Rango and very little else.

Sony Animations' latest isn't on par with DreamWorks or Pixar, both of which have only had solid outings in 2012 with Madagascar 3 and Brave, respectively, but Hotel Transylvania is harmless, albeit anaemic entertainment.

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