Hotel Transylvania is the first feature of director Genndy Tartakovsky, who has previously worked on series like Stars Wars: Clone Wars, The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory. The film started production in 2006 and Tartakovsky is the sixth filmmaker in the directing position for this project. It offers an interesting take on any monster or beastly creature, which literature, film or sheer pop culture have ever created.
Teaming up with screenwriters Peter Baynham (Bruno, Arthur Christmas) and Robert Smigel, Tartakovsky presents Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) as the owner of a special retreat, where monsters can hide from the hostility of the ‘normal’ human beings persecuting them in daily life. Also hidden away from the cruel world is his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), who on her 118th birthday decides to go and explore the outside world. Unfortunately on the eve of her birthday a human guy, Jonathan (presumably named after Jonathan Harker from Bram Stoker’s Dracula), bursts into the hotel looking for a room while on a backpacking trip. As the Count is trying to keep Mavis safe away from the scary outside world, a love interest develops between her and the newcomer.
The character world of Hotel Transylvania is definitely interesting since it offers a variety of all the familiar beasts, monsters and ghouls of the world. Among the collection are Steve Buscemi’s wolf Wayne, harassed by his numerous children, who never let him sleep and Frankenstein (Kevin James), and his wife, Eunice (Fran Drescher).
…a new approach towards the popular vampire…
One of the advantages of Hotel Transylvania is actually seeing an interpretation of all these cult monsters together in an animated film. Meanwhile, Sandler’s Dracula incorporates a new approach towards the popular vampire count and the worries of the father of a teenage daughter. The actor’s persona still manages to come through the angular animated figure, turning the role into one of his many similar incarnations. On the other hand, the wide-eyed Mavis makes for a cute example of an animated teenage vampire, wearing the vampire version of Converses. Nevertheless, despite her attempts to stand up to her father and state her independency she is not as rebellious as Brave’s Merida from earlier this year.
Although the father-daughter relationship of the film is funny as the film progresses it becomes slightly predictable. The humour is delivered not by the two main characters but by the rest of the monsters and Jonathan as he tries to organise a livelier party for Mavis’s birthday than the one her father has planned for her. Finally, the ‘zing’ between Mavis and Jonathan maybe a surprise for Count Dracula, but it won’t be such a plot twist even for the youngest members of the audience.
…the Halloween hype…
Hotel Transylvania has its funny and heart-warming moments but it doesn’t strike as the most inventive of stories. Based on an original idea, the film somehow seems to be afraid of building on it and turns to a more conventional, easier path. Despite the lovely animated characters, this is not enough to disguise Adam Sandler’s voice (despite the accent) and his influence over the whole film. Overall, the film takes advantage of the period it is released in, including the Halloween hype.