Not living it up in the Hotel Transylvania
Think Ice Age on acid, or Shrek on speed. Hotel Transylvania adopts the tolerable idea from Shrek of bringing together a dazzling host of ‘usual suspects’ – from fairy tale, mythical and Gothic genres – to create something new out of something familiar. But unlike the good-natured ogre’s franchise, this whimsical ensemble flick achieves only a flabby lack of direction.
Whatever metaphorical image I could have picked to open this review, I’d have had to emphasise the inescapable feeling of incredulous idiocy. True, the dreary slapstick and cringe-inducing bodily-function jokes appear to be the film’s proud raison d’etre, but I suspect at times it’ll freak out rather than amuse the little ones. The shticks are done with so little heart, brain and theatrical flair that you wonder whether the screenwriter is actually a zombie (or just stoned).
The story almost looks good on paper. Dracula’s (Sandler) adolescent daughter Mavis (Gomez) is approaching her 118th birthday and the proud father has invited a crowd of the world’s most notorious monsters: Frankenstein (voiced by regular Sandler co-star Kevin James, King of Queens), his wife (nasal Fran Drescher, The Nanny), the Invisible Man (Spade), the Mummy (CeeLo Green), Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz), a family of werewolves (led by the brilliant Steve Buscemi from Boardwalk Empire) and a slew of sundry witches and skeletons.
Mavis, who in human years is now 18, dreams of leaving the hotel she calls home in order to meet the other half, the humans, whose barbarism all monsters dread. (Kids will hopefully appreciate the reverse irony). There’s another kind of ‘other’ she finds interesting: boys. As fate would have it, a typical 21-year-old human backpacker, Jonathan (Samberg), loses his way in the woods and finds the barely concealed hotel. Dracula gets busy telling everyone Jonathan is a monster too (to avoid mass panic) and trying to keep him away from Mavis. Predictably, a Romeo and Juliet angle develops, but tragedy dies at the hands of ham-fisted jokes, tired clichés and several disco-musical scenes that never get off the ground.
All in all, Hotel Transylvania is a singularly tepid and dull affair offering nothing to grown-ups. Go and see the excellent A Cat in Paris instead.
Hotel Transylvania (7)
Dir: Genndy Tartakovsky; US animation, 2012, 91 mins; Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, David Spade
Premiered November 8
Playing at Fisketorvet