Hotel Transylvania is my favorite animated film this year. There I said it. Yes, I enjoyed it more than Frankenweenie, which I loved and more than Paranorman, which while extremely good, did not entertain me as much as I had hoped. Brave, not in the same spooky genre as the others, is decent, but limited in scope, so right now, I like Hotel Transylvania best, mainly because of the talented voice cast and an adorable, although not wholly fresh, story.
Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) and daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) live in the Hotel Transylvania, built by the count as a resort for monsters and a place to keep them and his beloved daughter away from humans. Annually the hotel celebrates Mavis’ birthday and guests include Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his bride (Fran Drescher), Wolfman (Steve Bushemi), the Invisible Man (David Spade) and a host of others. On the year of Mavis’ 118th birthday, a human backpacker, Jonathan (Andy Samberg) happens upon the hotel. With his arrival, Mavis, who already longs to venture into the world outside the walls of the hotel, becomes even more eager to explore. But the count does everything in his power to keep his little girl safe at home.
A host of writers participated in the creation of the story for Hotel Transylvania, although I do contend that it is not much different than any other tale in which a over protective parent learns an important lesson on raising children and letting go. But in the hands of director Moscow Genndy Tartakovsky and delightfully creative animators, the experience is indeed fresh and fun, playing on old school monster tales and myths and making for a energetic romp through parenthood and family.
Dracula and his guests fear humans rather than the other way around, because humans killed his beloved wife and mother to Mavis, Martha and humans have, over the centuries, misunderstood and mistreated monsters. He only means to protect his little girl, but has to face the fact that he cannot protect her, keeping her holed up, forever. Well drawn and eye-appealing characters, set in action packed, hilarious scenes make a formulaic story exciting. Add to that the perfectly matched voices of this stellar cast and the result is great family fun. More than anything, Hotel Transylvania is just good, fast-moving, chuckle-inducing fun and my grandson and I giggled throughout. All is witty, the character rendering, the quippy dialogue – Dracula drinks only blood substitutes and the Wolfman is worn completely out by his pack of unruly cubs, and delightfully, the hotel staff consists of blundering, moaning “undead” bellhops, chambermaid witches (naturally equipped with broomsticks for quick clean-ups) and a series of speaking shrunken-head door-hanger signs that drop amusing zingers particularly at Dracula’s expense. The hotel chef is Quasimodo and his sidekick a sneaky rat. Wonderful!
I know I will take grief for like this over the likes of Frankenweenie, but let me be clear, I thoroughly enjoyed both Frankenweenie and Paranorman (and Brave for that matter), but I loved The Hotel Transylvania for its sheer simplicity and no-holds-barred fun attitude. No, it’s not perfect, but it’s a blast!
Final Grade: A-