“Hotel Transylvania” – Review by Delon Villanueva

Hotel Transylvania Review

by Delon Villanueva

Genndy Tartakovsky has had a great animation history on television, with credits including Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack. Being such a recognizable talent, Genndy’s moment to break out onto the big screen was imminent. His motion picture directorial debut is Hotel Transylvania, the latest animated feature from Sony Pictures Animation. It features an all-star voice cast, including Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg, who both recently starred in this summer’s comedic dud, That’s My Boy. It also has the usual Happy Madison crew (Kevin James and David Spade) and teen superstar Selena Gomez. It’s obviously a very commercial project, but it’s something that Tartakovsky can creatively play with. Although it’s clear that he’s a true visual artist, Hotel Transylvania unfortunately lacks a unique touch that separates itself from the usual, run-of-the-mill animated film.

Hotel Transylvania is a resort where all monsters and creatures stay for vacation and far away from the humans. Such guests include Frankenstein (Kevin James), the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), the Invisible Man (David Spade), and the Mummy (Cee-Lo Green). The legendary Dracula (Adam Sandler) is the founder of this spooky hotel, and lives there with his teenage daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). The movie tells the story of Mavis’ 118th birthday, and all she wants is to finally leave the hotel and experience being with humans. Dracula, being an overprotective father, steers her away from such ideas as much as possible, even if he needs to lie. His limits are pushed once a human boy named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) discovers the haunted hotel. Unable to get him to leave, Dracula disguises Jonathan as a monster, leaving all the guests clueless of his identity. Though once Mavis and Jonathan fall for each other, Dracula realizes the human has overstayed his welcome.

Although it doesn’t really resemble his artistic style, Tartakovsky still does a great job in directing the animation of this film. For a dark and gloomy setting, the movie still feels colorful, as there’s always something interesting to look on the screen. Now, that’s the best thing about the movie. The animation. I mean, it’s Genndy Tartakovsky, I knew it would be good going in. Everything else? It’s obvious he didn’t have much involvement in. This is an extremely lackluster screenplay by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel. I usually excuse most family films that follow familiar formulas, as long as it has its own way of doing it. That’s completely absent in the character relationships in Hotel Transylvania. All the beats are very predictable, while some happen undeservedly, due to unevenly fast pacing. The script never builds up to whatever emotion, exposition, or turning point they want to express, and it feels awfully lazy. It makes the characters seem more two-dimensional than they already are. These one-note caricatures get old quick, and it doesn’t help that all the jokes they deliver are cringe inducing.

The only reason I don’t hate the movie is that there is still some effort here, mostly present in the animation. It’s just disappointingly bland overall. Genndy Tartokovsky does his best in bringing life to a dull screenplay. The story is full of potential, but the movie plays it way too safe. Although there should be smarter children’s films nowadays, I can still enjoy one that at least has its own personality.  Too bad Hotel Transylvania is totally unmemorable. If you have a kid dying to see it, but you want to save a couple of bucks, this can wait for home video.

RATING: 4.5/10. And don’t see in 3D. I mean, why did they even bother?

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