This one wasn’t a hit with the critics, apparently. However, I am here as Mark Flood, the animator and life-long film buff, that Genndy Tartakovsky’s Hotel Transylvania is an unmissable, hysterical family comedy. Its character animation is fluid and nicely caricatured in a way reminiscent of traditional 2D animation, the story is fast-paced, the voice cast assemble is awesome, there are nice morals and the music is nice (if a little too modern for my taste or to stand the test of time) – all of which lead up to an exciting climax where, as ridiculous as it sounds, we are rooting entirely for Count Dracula!
Halloween animation has a history of being good entertainment. I remember in particular 2008, where in theatres we had the clever dark-comedy Igor, and the home video market was treated to the strongly-Halloween-themed suprisingly excellent Scooby Doo and the Goblin King. This year we get Hotel Transylvania, which harks back to Igor’s blend of nice computer animation, spooky Halloween-themed ideas with an all-star voice cast (coincidentally, both Igor and Transylvania feature the voices of Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon in supporting roles).
The plot follows Dracula (Sandler), whose wife is murdered by – gasp – humans, so he builds a hotel supposedly completely safe from mankind where he can raise his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) right beside him. But when it gets to her 118th birthday (I thought I was old) and their friends Frankenstein (Kevin James), the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi) and the Invisible Man (David Spade) among others come to visit, she decides she wants to see the world – and gets her chance when a 21-year-old human camper, Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel and they fall in love.Before I address one of the best things about Transylvania, which is its voice cast, I must state one thing – I am NOT a fan of Adam Sandler. His films have bored me to tears and I find in a lot of his movies that my rabbit could have acted better than him. But he makes up for his crap career by likeably voicing Dracula, making him menacing but at the same time flawed, hyperactive and caring. Other members of the fantastic voice cast put together for the film shine in their roles, including Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire and a whole heap of animation including Monsters Inc., Igor and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within), Kevin James (Barnyard, Paul Blart: Mall Cop, The Dilemma), Molly Shannon (Igor, Evan Almighty), Selena Gomez (Wizards of Waverly Place, Another Cinderella Story), the comical Andy Samberg (Space Chimps, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Hot Rod), David Spade (The Emperor’s New Groove, Racing Stripes) and Jon Lovitz (Rat Race, The Simpsons) in his best animated role since the Radio in The Brave Little Toaster and Chula the spider in An American Tail: Fievel Goes West. Essentially, the movie is a Grown Ups reunion but a lot funnier as it is not written by Adam Sandler.
Although it never quite reaches the emotional heights of its opposition, Frankenweenie, the story never lags, unlike the latter film. The action is frantic mostly and it hammers almost too many jokes at once (which is nothing to complain about), and it all leads to a final chase that is exciting and heart-warming.
Unlike say Brave, the messages of which were perhaps too hidden in its heart for critics to appreciate, Transylvania displays its morals of over-protective parenting and young love simply and on the surface – that’s no bad thing, of course. The message of over-parenting is represented well to audiences with Dracula and his daughter Mavis, showing how he agonizes over her so much that he eventually breaks her heart when he forces Jonathan to leave.
Despite what the critics say, Hotel Transylvania is very pleasant, funny and enthralling family entertainment that will leave you wanting more. Sony Animations have definately returned to form after their appalling Smurfs movie. Transylvania I am sure is destined to be a Halloween classic, despite the fact it could have done without Adam Sandler rapping. I am also very pleased to hear that a sequel has been confirmed for 2015, but a little disappointed that Tartakovsky will not be returning, as he is committed to an adaptation of Popeye – which I’m sure will also be good.