I'm sure Adam Sandler is a nice guy. He's got talent, I'll give him that. But as an actor, he seriously grates on my nerves. I know animated features are ever-popular, but I tend to avoid them. I just don't like cartoons. Give me real people, with real stories. And yeah, it looks like 3-D is here to stay. Even I'm getting worn down and not eschewing it as much as I used to. Kid's movies. Oh, my. I don't have kids and there is no "kid within" this steely exterior.
When I walked into the theater, absolutely everything was going against Hotel Transylvania.
So… why did I like it so much?
Well, let me tell you. It's a sweet, smart, fun, simple and well-told little story. It reminded me of some of the paranormal romance animations and stop-motion films I loved as a girl: Mad Monster Party, Rudolf the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and The Wind in the Willows… as well as the few exceptions I've enjoyed as an adult, right on up to The Corpse Bride.
This is where some disappointment may lie in Hotel Transylvania for the genre folks. It's not a scary movie, it's a paranormal romance and it's essentially about a father/daughter relationship.
Here's the story. Widowed Count Dracula (Sandler) runs a 5-stake resort hotel and sanctuary that's for ghouls-only. No humans allowed. Annually, he turns the gothic chalet into party central for his beloved child Mavis's (Selina Gomez) birthday. This year is a big one: she's turning 118 years old. She's not a little girl anymore, but she's still Daddy Drac's baby. As the guests arrive (Frankenstein and his Bride, The Wolfman, The Mummy, Quasimodo, et al), it's kooky and cool chaos… so much hustle and bustle, that at first no one notices a human has wandered in. The horror!
Jonathan (Andy Samberg) is backpacking through Europe, and he's your typical granola-crunching, Phish fan, Burning Man kinda hipster-hippy, easygoing slacker dude… and of course, Mavis falls for him right away. Dracula is furious! But he can't do anything to ruin the party, so as he tries to cover up the fact a mortal is in their midst, hilarity, as it often does, ensues.
Yes, there are some fart jokes and scatological Sandlery stuff I could have lived without, but overall I was entertained from start to finish. I don't usually do "cute" but this is cute, and I was totally into it! (However I hasten to add that ParaNorman, while I pretty much disliked it on the whole, is better aimed at the hardcore horror fanbase.)
Much as I'd love to tell you my own favorite little insidery lines of dialogue, funny situations and marvelous monster moments, I won't. It'd be wrong to spoil the best bits. Just take my word for it, and go see it. It's a sweet romance, a great daddy-daughter story, and the monsters totally rock (literally… they have a band!).
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson