It’s definitely saying something that Hotel Transylvania is the best Adam Sandler movie to emerge from the Hollywood stables since Spanglish. That was in 2004, or eight years ago. Since then, we’ve had to sit through such (ahem) classics as Jack and Jill, I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, and this year’s Razzie shoe-in, That’s My Boy. The fact that Hotel Transylvania is an animated kiddie flick from the creative mind behind such Cartoon Network classics as Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls is the saving grace of this otherwise fairly ho-hum stroll through the land of animated whimsy and misadventure. Genndy Tartakovsky is the writer-director whose considerable cache helped get this movie made. The final product is, alas, considerably less entertaining than the average Powerpuff Girls episode though still a few thousand Zohan miles better than anything Sandler’s done in the last 10 years. Score one for the animated Dracula!
The story is kind of a lesser Monsters Inc., with Hotel Transylvania being a haven for monsters that have been systematically hated and oppressed by the humans that fear them. Opened and operated by Dracula (Sandler) who has a fiery “teenage” daughter (she’s actually 118 years old) voiced by Selena Gomez, who inevitably falls for a human (voiced by Andy Samberg). So actually, it’s more like The Little Mermaid, sans the magic, charm, and musical genius.
The movie doesn’t aim to be high art, but then it isn’t exactly sure of what it should be either. It ends up being a decidedly low-brow affair that will appeal mostly to the little ones in the audience. There are a few brilliant sequences of physical comedy that are masterfully animated, and the visuals are truly beautifully executed from the first frame to the last, but none of that can make up for the lackluster rehash of a story that is more concerned with getting out the one-liners than having the characters evolve along anything recognizable as an emotional journey. Strictly for kids and their parents who need a temporary babysitter.