(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, on December 8, 2012)
Voice Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Selena Gomez, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Rating: 2.5 stars
The only thing more annoying than a new accent on Robin Williams has to be a new accent on Adam Sandler. That’s the preconceived notion with which I went to watch Hotel Transylvania, at a cinema populated largely by screechy kids and their screechier mothers. But, thankfully, Adam Sandler’s voice is somewhat less annoying than his physical presence on screen.
If you’ve watched the trailers, you already know Hotel Transylvania is set in an animated hotel that is a haven for monsters, free of human menace. You also know there’s pandemonium when a human – American backpacker, of course – finds his way there, and goes, “Hello! What is this place?” And if you’ve read Frankenstein, you also groaned when they got the monster and the scientist mixed up – again.
Well, so Count Dracula is a vampire who’s learned to be vegetarian from Twilight. Or whatever the vampire term for drinking animal blood, versus human blood, is. Here, he’s a doting father doing all he can to raise his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) in a world free from stakes and fires. He even gets cutie diaper-changing stations, all coffin-shaped, aww. And he sings freaky versions of “Hush, little baby” to her. She grows up in the loving environs of a lodge that’s “human-free since 1898”, a haunted forest, and a zombie-populated graveyard.
As the girl’s 118th birthday approaches, who should land up but a younger man (Andy Samberg). Jonathan is the sort of idiot who thinks monsters are awesome, and Goth is still in. So, if you’re a vampire looking for love, he’s your guy. Of course, at this point, there’s only one direction the story can take. Vampire Dad starts telling Jonathan the tragic history of the family...whaa?!
Wait, so this is where a romance that would put Twilight to shame, and adults to sleep, begins. The film is littered with terrible puns on everything from edible goods – “scream cheese” – to utility ware. Of course, Invisible Man will play charades. Of course, someone will walk in on a bathing skeleton. And, of course, Vampire Dad will eventually go to great lengths, face grave danger, and take on physical strain instead of using mind-control.
The 3D is mostly enjoyable, and little wonder, since the first-time director started out as a storyboard artist. The characters are lovingly etched, and bring the sort of fuzzy warmth to the animation that will make kids love ghouls and monsters of all kinds – at least, till they catch The Exorcist, the Resident Evil series et al – kids still do that, right?
The Verdict: The predictable storyline, and the reliable voice cast make the film a decent enough watch, if you’re not averse to predictability.