Friday, October 5, 2012

Hotel Transylvania

Get out your werewolves and vampires and mummies and invisible men and...ok let's just review Hotel Transylvania.
Mr. Werewolf had to drag his kids to see this.  
Dracula(Adam Sandler) has made a hotel for all monsters to feel safe. When his daughter Mavis(Selena Gomez) turns 118, she finally wants to leave the hotel and venture out into the world, and Dracula will do anything to prove to her that humans are not to be trusted. Enter Jonathan(Andy Samberg), a human who's stumbled onto the out-of-reach monster hotel!

Hotel Transylvania's ok. My expectations were going all over the scale when I heard Sandler was the main voice and then that Genndy Tartakovsky was directing, but after finally watching's ok. It's a pretty good animation, I'm not saying it's terrible. It has a great voice cast, the character designs for all the monsters are fun and inventive, the animation is great and kids will love it...but having said all that, it's nothing special. If you're going to see one animated monster movie this year, see Paranorman. But if you're going to see two animated monster movies this year...see Paranorman twice.

Let's start with the good. The character designs are varied and inventive and really take what you expect about monsters and stretch that to the max.  It feels like a Tartakovsky-made cartoon like Dexter's Lab, Samurai Jack or the original Clone Wars cartoon, especially the great 2D end credits. And some of the ideas are genius! The whole concept of a hotel for monsters is fun, and I love that zombies are the hired help.
Sandler makes a surprisingly
great Dracula.

The voice cast is huge, varied and pretty great. Other than Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg(working together again after That's My Boy) there's Steve Buscemi, David Spade as the invisible man(tell me that's not ironic) Kevin James as Frankenstein's monster and Cee Lo Green as a bubbly mummy. And they all do great with their roles. For all the worrying, Adam Sandler makes a great Dracula. His constant, "I don't say bleah I have never said bleah! I don't know where that comes from!" is hilarious and sounds like something Dracula would say.

And the animation is good. It's not ground-breaking, it's no pixar film, and the textures aren't goign to win any awards, but there's some great animation here and there. But the big problem is that there's too much going on too fast. It's barely 90 minutes long and everything feels rushed. There's no time to stop and enjoy any of the designs or the humor or the silly squash and stretch because they're moving on to the next thing. In this way it is very much a kids movie. It's almost to the point of a movie for ADHD kids. "HEY KIDS LOOK AT THIS THING! NOW LOOK AT THAT THING! HEY LOOK THIS THING IS MOVING NOW! KEEP UP KEEP UP! KIDS! KIIIIDS?!"  I'm sure children will get a kick out of it, but for anyone over 5, it might be a bit tiring.

And while the story is good, it's nothign new and nothing special. It's interesting in that it takes up where every recent monster movie left off, namely "humans are really the monsters!"then questions what comes after that, and that's unique. But the daddy daughter thing is, it's nice but it's not great. The story moves too fast and characters like/hate other characters so fast it feels forced and rushed. It's no Brave and it's definiatly no Pranorman is what I'm saying.
Whether you see this movie is dependent on how much you want to see Cee Lo Green as a sassy mummy.
There's an argument that some things aren't dumb, they're just for kids because kids can't or won't understand some things. But that's not giving kids credit. Pixar movies can be incredibly complex and fun for audience members of any age. Paranorman is certainly more complex, and look, there is Avatar. Avatar is for kids, it has silly humor, but it's also dramatic and engaging. So I think I can safety say there are dumb kids movies, and this is one of those. I'm not saying there's anything wrong with that, I'm just saying, this is the kind of movie that ends with a pop sing-and-dance number.  Just know what you're getting into, and know that if you're an adult who really likes animation, this might not be your movie.

THE GOOD: Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, some funny and cute parts, great character design, nice animation, great voice cast, cool concepts, great end credits.

THE BAD: Very kidsy, too much too fast, ends with a dance party.

THE VERDICT: $$$ If you have kids, it's some fun entertainment. Otherwise, just go see Paranorman again.

MOVIES LIKE IT: Paranorman, Shrek, Madagascar, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Megamind

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The opening scene in which all the monsters come to stay at the hotel. A lot's going on when you get to meet the main cast members of Dracula, Mummy, Werewolf, Frankenstein, and Invisible Man, but so much is happening at once you don't get a chance to enjoy any of it.

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