Movie review: Families welcome at 'Hotel Transylvania'

It's probably a safe bet that the best thing that ever happened to Adam Sandler is he became a father. It might be the best thing that ever happened to audiences, too.

He and his collaborators, many with families of their own, wanted to make a movie their children could see. The resulting "Hotel Transylvania" is a 3-D animated monster movie for kids, although adults will appreciate its humor and cache of celebrity voices as well.

'Hotel Transylvania'

3 stars = Good
Ratings explained
  • Starring: Voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James.
  • Rating: PG for some rude humor, action and scary images.

Mr. Sandler speaks for Dracula, a widower with a daughter, Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez), about to turn 118 years old. He dotes on Mavis and is overly protective, forbidding her from leaving the hotel, which serves as a hospitality haven for monsters.

When the Frankensteins or Invisible Man or Wayne the werewolf and his ever-growing brood of beasts want to relax and get away from humans -- the real enemies in their eyes -- they head for the remote resort. Everyone is gathered for Mavis' birthday when hapless human backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles onto the premises.

Dracula fears what will happen to his hotel if his guests get wind, literally in the case of head chef Quasimodo and his pet rat, of a human in their midst. He disguises the outsider as Johnnystein, a distant cousin of Frankenstein, and no one is the wiser, at the start.

But as the 21-year-old brings a youth and vitality to the party and Mavis takes a liking to him, Dracula finds his ruse growing ever more dangerous. We learn why Dracula is so hellbent on keeping Mavis from the outside world and why he is raising his daughter alone in this merry monster mash.

The vampires have fangs and occasionally turn into bats, but no one sinks his teeth into anyone's neck, and any flashes of rage are very brief. Dracula, in fact, prefers "near-blood or Blood Beaters" and, when asked by Jonathan about that whole wooden stake through the heart legend, replies, "Who wouldn't that kill?"

Emmy winner Genndy Tartakovsky (Cartoon Network's "Star Wars: Clone Wars," "Samurai Jack") directs the comedy, written by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel. In addition to Mr. Sandler, Ms. Gomez and Mr. Samberg, it features the voices of Kevin James and Fran Drescher as the Frankensteins, Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon as the werewolves, David Spade as the Invisible Man and CeeLo Green as roly-poly Murray the mummy.

The animation isn't groundbreaking, but the story is fast-paced and funny and the messages -- about fearing those who are different and unwittingly turning your child into a prisoner in an effort to keep her safe -- can be appreciated by anyone.

I previewed it in 3-D, but I think it will play almost as well in regular (less pricey) 2-D. Save the extra couple of dollars for another movie coming down the pike. You don't need the glasses to get the "Twilight" tweak aimed at the real mummies and others in the audience.


Movie editor Barbara Vancheri: or 412-263-1632. Read her blog: First Published September 28, 2012 4:00 AM


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