Hotel Transylvania is studded with big names — Adam Sandler Andy Samberg Selena Gomez Kevin James Steve Buscemi Jon Lovitz the list goes on — but no amount of star power and 3D effects can rescue this monster movie from its one dimensional cast of ghouls and derivative overprotective father plot-line. In creating a hotel for monsters someone hit upon a clever idea. However the freshness stops there as neither the storyline nor characters are remotely fleshed out.
Count Dracula (voiced by Sandler) has opened up a hotel deep in the heart of the haunted forest where monsters can check in for a little R&R without fearing human contact. But while Dracula guards his hotel with his life he guards his adolescent daughter Mavis (Gomez) even closer. She has lived a sheltered life confined to the hotel since her mother's death a century earlier. That is until human manchild Johnny (Samberg) unexpectedly arrives at the hotel on Mavis' 118th birthday and shakes things up. What ensues is a disjointed catapult of a movie one which more closely resembles an advertisement for the latest virtual reality amusement park ride than the story-driven animated films we love.
Our first glimpse of Johnny snapping photos incessantly on his smart phone as he backpacks across the world is enough to illicit a few laughs — we've all seen that wide-eyed technology-obsessed kid before. But soon the 21-year-old is riding his Razor scooter and dropping Dave Matthews Band and Slipknot references and you realize just how out of touch this film is. The clinging father storyline — filled with daughterly exclamations of "I just want to see the world!" – and love at first sight trope (referred to as a "zing") are equally stale.
In the movie's final act our monsters — which include a mummy Frankenstein the Invisible Man and a family of werewolves — leave the confines of the hotel and venture into the human world. As our gang stumbles across a Monster Convention full of costume-wearing monster-obsessed nerds the film hits a high point. The self-referential humor that arises from the absurdity of the situation is a welcome relief from the fart jokes and sight gags that fill the film's first two thirds. However it's too little too late.
Ultimately Hotel Transylvania is a great choice for distracting the kids who will likely respond well to the toilet humor and break-neck pace. Unfortunately there's not much in this film for theatergoers over the age of seven to hold on to.