‘Hotel Transylvania’ Review: A Grim Treat

johnvalle October 3, 2012 0
‘Hotel Transylvania’ Review: A Grim Treat
  • Cast
  • Comedy
  • Storyline
  • Animation
Director: Genndy Tartakovsky
Producer: Michelle Murdocca
Writers: Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel (Screenplay), Todd Durham, Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman (Story)
Cast: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, CeeLo Green, Jon Lovitz, Luenell
Original Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Art Director: Ron Lukas, Noelle Triaureau
Editor: Catherine Apple

‘Hotel Transylvania’

As animated films continue to dominate the box office, more directors are introducing a range of genres and characters to this limitless playground. Films that confide to the grim, grotesque, and ghoulish are high in attendance.

It used to be that Tim Burton and Henry Selick were the obvious candidates for creating brilliantly grim animations for Hollywood, but now up-n-coming directors are stepping up to the challenge. Although incredibly different from a Burton or Selick feature, Sony Pictures Animation’s Hotel Transylvania is the most recent addition to this genre.

Released on September 28th of this year, Hotel Transylvania has a very different atmosphere than other films humanizing horror with animation. Rather than relying on the more grim and undesirable character attributes that heavily define Burton’s career, the director of Hotel Transylvania, Genndy Tartakovsky, is known for his more cartoonish styled animations, which rely on movement and a different form of weirdness.

Tartakovsky is a man of my generation. He is responsible for creating The Powerpuff Girls (1998-2004), Dexter’s Laboratory (1996-2003) and Samurai Jack (2001-2004). With his sturdy resume in the animation, direction, producing, and writing departments it comes as no surprise that Hotel Transylvania was not a let down.


In the overall scheme of things the storyline is incredibly simple. A single, overprotective father has to cope with his daughter growing up and experiencing the real world first hand. Now take that idea and twist it with a juxtaposition of attributes birthed from the genre of horror. Keep in mind that the film is targeted to a younger audience.

Adam Sandler voices the single father, Dracula, and Selina Gomez voices Mavis, who is about to turn the young age of 118. Upon losing his wife, Dracula makes a promise to protect his little girl from the savages that make up the human population. He then builds a giant mansion serving the purpose of a Hotel for all kinds of monsters lurking in the dark to stay safe, comfortable, and most of all, human free.

The night before Mavis’ 118th birthday a red-headed, skinny, and dreadfully smelly 21-year-old human, Jonathan (Andy Samberg) walks into the hotel. In his efforts to keep everything under wraps, Dracula disguises the young man as a fellow monster. Unfortunately, he runs into the count’s daughter. The two zing and the story continues as their love for one another becomes clear.

The Good

The Cast

The cast members for Hotel Transylvania could be considered a star lineup. Adam Sandler does a brilliant job playing the lead Dracula, while Andy Samberg plays the young human Jonathan. The duo, which was also in another film earlier this year called That’s My Boy, did a wonderful job; the atmosphere surrounding the two is brilliant and incredibly natural.

Selena Gomez accompanies the duo as Dracula’s daughter Mavis. Kevin James plays Frankenstein with his wife Eunice, who is played by Fran Drescher. The one of a kind Steve Buscemi plays the wolf, Wayne, while David Spade plays Griffin, the Invisible Man. R&B artist CeeLo Green provides the voice for Murray the Mummy.

Although Sandler and Samberg steal the show, the rest of the cast did well. On paper, the cast is extraordinary and on the reel they did not disappoint. Instead of overtaking their roles, they made enough of a mark to be remembered.

The Animation

As I am pursuing a Degree in Animation and Interactive Design, I personally love animated films. Sony Pictures Animation has made their mark in the industry with movies such as Monster House (2006) and Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs (2009).

I thoroughly enjoyed the entire picture when it came to the animated aspects. The way the animators constructed the movements for Dracula were wonderful. He glides with his cape rather than walking traditionally. His posture is uptight, yet slouched over, providing animated aspects that are incredibly important to the character’s expressive nature. Everything from the choice in costumes to the way the characters moved and held their postures was carried out to great success.

Just like Pixar and DreamWorks, Sony Pictures Animation has a unique way of creating characters with their physical attributes and motions. With a very different style than Pixar, Sony creates animated masterpieces in their own way. I can always tell a Sony Pictures Animation feature due to their consistency and signature style.

From beginning to end, I was absolutely arrested with the creativity this studio brought to the big screen. The lighting, the animating of the characters as monsters, the texturing, the modeling, everything in this department is great. Collectively, the major animation companies’ method of uniquely leaving their mark in the films’ aesthetics is ingenious.

The Okay

The Storyline

Although the film is definitely an overall success there were parts that could have been much better such as the storyline. It was by no means bad; however, it lacked a sense of supremeness that could only carry it so far.

It’s a fairly simple storyline that brings nothing special to the table. The crew did a good job making due with the simplicity of the story, but the entire time I wanted more — a twist, something to make it a little less mundane and a little more unique.

With that being said, the film is made for a younger target audience, and in that sense the storyline was fine. I did appreciate that Hotel Transylvania weaved in a few lines of comedy for the adults. I would have enjoyed more complexity in the writing, yet for the intended audience it was not necessary to conjure up a complex tale with twists and turns for the safety of presenting a clear story that is easy to understand and follow.

The Comedy

The comedy was not bad; however, this is an opinion coming from someone my age. Along with the storyline, the comedy serve the younger audience. This is not to say I didn’t laugh at some of the jokes or did not enjoy the comedy because I certainly did. Growing up watching the television shows that helped launch Genndy T’s career, such as Dexter’s Laboratory, I did feel a sense of nostalgia.

I thought the jokes were appropriately handled. During the viewing I went to, there were many accounts where the adults were laughing louder than the children. Overall, if you are an eight to thirteen year old kid then I’m sure you will be more than pleased with the comedy, yet if you are an adult watching the film some of the jokes may not come off as very humorous. Regardless of your age, the film is worth seeing.

Score: 3.5/5

Overall, I enjoyed Hotel Transylvania. Sandler and Samberg definitely stole the show, and the animation was absolutely brilliant. It is safe to say that Sony can be considered as one of the top animation studios, holding their ground right beside Pixar and DreamWorks.

Hotel Transylvania did lack that sense of uniqueness that I long for in movies. If you want a film that you can enjoy anytime with any age group, especially the younger folks, then I would recommend Hotel Transylvania; however, if you are wanting a breathtaking story that will leave you mind fucked then do not see this.

‘Hotel Transylvania’ Movie Trailer