Viktoriya Berezovskaya ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff
The weather’s getting colder, the leaves are changing, and there are big bags of candy at CVS. That can only mean one thing, it’s October and that means the commercial Halloween season has been going strong for about a month now. The theme has not missed the theaters, as Hotel Transylvania is the latest in Halloween-themed children’s entertainment, but certainly not the greatest.
Going into Hotel Transylvania, there’s no reason not to already know what to expect. Trailers set off warning bells with their focus on colorful monster designs and isolated family-friendly jokes in the chaotic setting of a hotel for monsters—hoping that amidst the chaos, audiences would forget to search the trailer for any hint of a plot. That’s about all the movie seeks to be: a canvas to be painted full of cornball jokes, bathroom humor, and pop culture references.
But, to be fair, amidst the chaos, there is a pretty cute story at play about Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). As Dracula’s heavy-handed expository dialogue in the opening scenes of the film tells us, monsters live in fear of persecution by humans, and Dracula’s hotel was built as a monster-only haven and sanctuary—and more specifically, as a safe place for Mavis to grow up and live in. On Mavis’s 118th birthday, she’s ready to leave the nest and see the world, but Dracula wants nothing more than to see his little girl stay with him forever, at home, safe and sound, away from scary, prejudiced humans. He manages to bring her around to his point of view, only to have twenty-something-year-old backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a—gasp—human show up on his property. Human boy meets vampire girl, and shenanigans ensue!
The story is as predictable as you would expect from there, and half-hearted to boot. The plot is simple, but muddled with way too many cringe-worthy jokes. Bathroom humor makes flamboyant and classless appearances, as do the requisite pop culture references that you would typically expect from a somewhat half-hearted piece of children’s animation. A film with what is perhaps a strong and interesting premise has writing that is not only generic, but remarkably choppy. Between plot holes, horribly contrived scenes and events, and character development that happens suddenly and for no discernible reason, one gets the sense that the story is held together with string and chewing gum. This is not the sort of movie helped by its strong or interesting characters, either—one spends the entire movie not knowing what to expect next from Jonathan’s ever-changing personality, or knowing exactly what to expect next from the rest of the one-dimensional and all-too-clearly-defined cast.
Despite this, the movie manages to lapse into poignancy once or twice, and the lesson learned is not a bad one. This is not the kind of animated feature you pick up as a twenty-something-year-old looking for good, fun animation—there are too many other good animated features to sink your teeth into. If you find yourself roped into this movie, though, adults will find some very worthwhile jokes in there just for them—ones that make the experience of watching this with kids less painful and more pleasantly mind-numbing. While this is not a bad Halloween flick for your sons, daughters, nephews, nieces, little brothers and sisters, if you care about their cinematic upbringing it might be worth checking out ParaNorman instead or waiting for Frankenweenie.
See it: Halloween time next year when you see the DVD in the bargain bin and you need something to watch with little kids.
Don’t see it: If you expect a piece of quality animated entertainment.