It's been a bumper autumn for fans of the horror-animation mash-up. Last month it was ParaNorman; this week we have Hotel Transylvania and next week it's Frankenweenie. Hotel Transylvania isn't as subversive or, well, cool as the other two but it's still a fun, where-did-the-time-go? hour-and-a-half. It's also the best thing Adam Sandler has put his name/voice to since Punch-Drunk Love.
In spot-on vocal casting, he plays Dracula as a still-grieving widower who tries to keep the best side out for the monster and ghoul guests at his hotel ("Human free since 1898"). Dracula is over-protective of his only child Mavis (Gomez) but, having constructed incredibly elaborate stories and set-ups to keep her from heading outside the castle walls and interacting with those dreaded, bloodthirsty humans, he is faced with the fact that her 118th birthday is coming up and she is almost old enough to do what she wants. Dracula still reckons he has every eventuality covered, but he's overlooked one: a young backpacker (Samberg) with an Eraserhead do turning up in reception and catching Mavis' eye.
A TV show-in-waiting if ever there was one, Hotel Transylvania features possibly the best put-down of the Twilight phenomenon to date. The big disappointment is that the rest of the script isn't as sharp or sassy as this golden one-liner. Sure, there are giggles, jumps and life lessons about tolerance and prejudice throughout the set-pieces, but given the richness of the characters - Kevin James as Frankenstein, CeeLo Green as The Mummy - and the history that audiences have with them this movie should have been a start-to-finish classic. That said, you'll end up wanting to see more of these oddballs in a sequel - we want an upgrade!
Until then, director Tartakovsky deserves some kind of luxury holiday himself for simultaneously managing to make kids less afraid of the dark and more interested in things that go bump in the night.