Opens Sept. 28, 2012. Run time: 1 hr. 31 min.
|for some rude humor, action and scary images|
Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula's lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of the world's most famous monsters - Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, a family of werewolves, and more - to celebrate his daughter Mavis's 118th birthday. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem - but this could come crashing down when one ordinary guy stumbles on the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis.
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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. Hollywood.com rated this film 1 1/2 stars.-Abbey Stone.
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