' Hotel Transylvania'
3 stars = Good
Adam Sandler and his collaborators, many with families of their own, wanted to make a movie their children could see. The resulting "Hotel Transylvania" is an animated monster movie for kids, although adults will appreciate its humor and cache of celebrity voices as well.
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, and disguises the outsider as Johnnystein, a distant cousin of Frankenstein. 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.
Emmy winner Genndy Tartakovsky (Cartoon Network's "Star Wars: Clone Wars," "Samurai Jack") directs the comedy, written by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel. 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.
Blu-ray features include mini-movie "Goodnight Mr. Foot," three deleted scenes, featurettes and commentary.
' Seven Psychopaths'
3 1/2 stars = Very good
A struggling screenwriter gets involved with Los Angeles' criminal underworld.
The focal point for the movie's oddball insanity is Marty (Colin Farrell), a writer who's creatively blocked. All he has is a title for his next book -- "Seven Psychopaths" -- and a best friend, Billy (Sam Rockwell), who splits his time between stealing dogs with Hans (Christopher Walken) and trying to be part of Marty's next book.
No one plays psychopath better than Mr. Rockwell. His actions are crazy. But no matter how bizarre he gets, there's something about the character that is extremely likable. It's a similar formula that Mr. Walken has used over the years. Bringing Mr. Rockwell and Mr. Walken together is like an awards ceremony for the Psychopathic Characters Hall of Fame.
The film has two huge things going for it -- a superb script by writer/director Martin McDonagh and the best cast of screwball con men who shoot to thrill since "The Usual Suspects." Both turn what would have been a rather tepid tale of dognapping-gone-bad into crazy fun.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers
TV on DVD
' Pan Am: The Complete Series'
2 1/2 stars = Average
The short-lived ABC high-flying drama follows a group of young flight attendants during the early 1960s. It was a time when you could carry more than three ounces of a liquid, didn't have to go through security to get on board and could smoke until the cabin looked like a Tule fog.
The show works as a spy story -- it's set when the biggest threat to the United States was Russia -- that's full of opportunities for stories dealing with international espionage, and also as a soap opera with wings.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapers
' Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey, Season 3'
Upstairs and downstairs the intrigue continues, but I'm not sure I'm as infatuated as I once was with where creator Julian Fellowes has taken the show, which wraps up Feb. 17 on PBS. There will be no spoilers here for, as we know, there will be a season 4. So maybe season 3 is just part of a setup for next year.
Still, "Downton" was enjoyable, and it was a clever stroke to bring in Shirley MacLaine as Cora's mother from America as a counterpart to Maggie Smith's very British dowager countess. Watching the two veteran actresses go up against each other was a treat.
-- Rob Lowman, Los Angeles Daily News
ALSO NEW THIS WEEK:
• "Paranormal Activity 4" (2 stars): Cameras capture odd events in a house.
• "Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Part 2": Next entry in the ongoing series of DC Universe animated original movies.
• "Femme Fatales: The Complete First Season": Cable series where women rule.
• "The Awakening": The death of a child is blamed on a ghost. Rebecca Hall stars.
• "Poirot & Marple: Fan Favorites Collection": David Suchet plays Poirot.
• "Charlie's Angels: The Complete Fifth Season": Jaclyn Smith stars in the TV crime drama.
• "Wodehouse Playhouse Complete": Includes all three series of the BBC comedy.
• "That Obscure Object of Desire": An aging Frenchman falls in love with a young woman.
• "Bangkok Assassins": Four boys use their martial arts skills.
• "Misfits: Season Two": Five unruly teens must do community service.
• "My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic -- Pinkie Pie Party": Includes five awesome parties.
• "The Cold Light of Day": Wall Street trader doesn't know who he can trust.
• "Noobz": Four friends hit the road to compete in the Cyberbowl Video Game Championship.
• "Nobody Gets Out Alive": Man's life is turned upside down when his daughter is killed by a drunk driver.
• "The Duellists": Two officers in Napoleon's army confront each other in a series of duels.
• "To Catch a Dollar: Muhammad Yunus Banks on America": Documentary about a man's effort to help the working poor.
• "Rootin' Tootin' Wild West!": Includes characters from "Bubble Guppies," "Team Umizoomi" and "Dora the Explorer."
• "Liability": To pay his debts, a man becomes a driver for a killer. Tim Roth stars.
• "Amy Schumer: Mostly Sex Stuff": Comedian's first special.
• "Amazing Ocean 3D": A look at the ocean depths.
• "Hey Arnold! Season Three": Includes 19 original episodes.
• "Madly Madagascar": TV special featuring the wacky zoo buddies.
-- Rick Bentley, McClatchy Newspapersmoviereviews
First Published January 31, 2013 5:00 AM