Oct 26 2012 by Ian Bunting, Airdrie & Coatbridge Advertiser
Ghoulish animation horrors are in vogue at the moment (Frankenweenie, ParaNorman).
And with Halloween coming up, it’s only fair that ankle biters have something with scary characters in it they can watch (well, apart from sneaky late night viewings of horrors on the telly).
Hotel Transylvania is the latest production from Sony Pictures Animation, whose previous hits Surf’s Up, Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs and The Smurfs haven’t hit the grand heights of Pixar and DreamWorks’ best.
Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) runs a high-end resort for monsters away from the human world but his world is turned upside down when young Jonathan (Andy Samberg) discovers the hotel and falls for the vampire’s daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez).
Sony Pictures still can’t offer up an animation to take on the likes of The Incredibles, Shrek and Toy Story in a fair fight.
But there’s no doubt, Hotel Transylvania is their closest effort yet.
Director Genndy Tartakovsky makes his big screen bow after nearly two decades of work on television cartoons like Dexter’s Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack.
He fills the screen with classic horror movie characters like zombies, witches and mummies and rarely lets up on their frantic antics.
Swooping shots through the castle make decent use of the 3D but the film’s set pieces, among them flying dining tables and a late race against time, don’t conjure up enough thrills and spills.
Debut writers Todd Durham and Dan and Kevin Hageman penned the story but are backed up by experienced comedy scripters Peter Baynham (Bruno, I’m Alan Partridge) and Robert Smigel (Saturday Night Live) on the film’s screenplay.
Sandler and Gomez play out a sweet protective single dad and rebellious daughter relationship and there’s a neat role reversal that presents humans as evil and all the same (“that’s kind of racist”).
Despite the horror genre nods it’s clear that this is no dark-toned terror disguised as a cartoon. Dracula drinking blood substitute is an indication of the kid-friendly atmosphere created.
Some of the laughs work and some... not so much.
Invisible Man Griffin (voiced by David Spade) playing charades and Steve Buscemi’s werewolf Wayne’s constant battle with his massive brood tickle the funny bone.
Singer CeeLo Green’s mummy Murray emptying his bowels and Samberg’s chilled-out, backpacking festival-goer’s ever
grating presence are more likely to furrow your brow (unless you’re under the age of eight).
More of Sandler’s buddies, Kevin James (Frankenstein) and Jon Lovitz (Quasimodo), fill out the voice cast and they’re decent value.
But while Hotel Transylvania is worth a night’s stay, and kids will lap it up, you won’t be in a hurry to pack your bags for a quick return.