Magazine article Screen International

Hotel Transylvania

Magazine article Screen International

Hotel Transylvania

Article excerpt

Dir: Genndy Tartakovsky. US. 2012. 92mins

High-value animation gets wrapped around a slapdash story more suited to a Saturday morning cartoon in Hotel Transylvania, an animated film that tries rather unsuccessfully to meld empty nest anxiety with a curious, half-sketched tale about a getaway resort for monsters. Broad, lazy storytelling sinks producer-star Adam Sandler's vehicle, which lacks the snap and distinctiveness of something like the recent ParaNorman.

Samberg's bouncy, easygoing patois recalls a cousin of Scooby-Doo's Shaggy, but Sandler's accent as Dracula isn't exactly a meticulously crafted thing.

Sandler's previous holiday-branded foray into animation, 2002's Eight Crazy Nights, failed to capitalize on his brand, grossing under $24 million. While the slightly broader conceit of this story suggests a decent opening weekend, Hotel Transylvania isn't a Halloween movie, exactly, and it should be met with critical pans and fairly indifferent word-of-mouth that will limit its theatrical earning power before it settles into rotation in cable television and other ancillary markets as an adolescent babysitter.

When, on her 118th birthday, vampire Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) seems ready to finally go out and experience the world for herself, her worried and overprotective single father, Count Dracula (Sandler), constructs an elaborate ruse about the scariness of humans to scare her and keep her from leaving his side. They live together in a lavish hotel of Dracula's design, where an assortment of monsters -- the Invisible Man, the Mummy, the Werewolf, Frankenstein and his bride -- have all gathered to celebrate Mavis' benchmark birthday.

A goofy human backpacker interloper, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), however, stumbles across Dracula's lair. Panicked, the Count endeavors to conceal his identity, lest it freak out his guests, and also try to douse any flickering flames of attraction between Mavis and this curious newcomer.

Director Genndy Tartakovsky and editor Catherine Apple serve as taskmasters, driving the movie at a blistering pace. But they're unable to impress a unifying vision upon the film, either in terms of tone or look. Visually, Hotel Transylvania has some standout sequences, but the scenes that work best in 3-D, including a sequence on flying dinner tables, feel like awkward inclusions.

The screenplay is credited to Peter Baynham and frequent Sandler collaborator Robert Smigel, but a long list of additional material contributors in the end credits includes relatives of Sandler. …

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