As usual I go see a movie the second weekend it’s out. Hotel Transylvania was still very well attended at the matinee.
I’m not a fan of Genndy Tartakovksi’s TV work, so I went in with low expectations. The trailer didn’t help when I saw Dracula’s head held perfectly still while his mouth moved, making it look like limited animation. But that was just his character, and the animation overall was great fun. It was quick and loose, without being too rubbery, like Ice Age 4.
What the story did well was put Dracula square in the middle of multiple relationships that he had to juggle. There was his daughter, then there were his many monster friends who trusted him to keep the hotel free of humans, and finally he had to deal with Jonathan, the human packpacker who stumbles into the place and threatens everything. When his daughter meets Jonathan the reaction causes the real dilemma for Dracula. Most animated films don’t have such complicated situations. But the many elements allowed for a really fast moving story with many sudden challenges.
While I think Adam Sandler brought nothing special to the part, Dracula and Jonathan did actually have a chemistry that is rarely found in animation. The dialog had a classic snappiness, while being modern and relavant. I could feel the tension between them. A father meeting a boy who might be interested in his daughter is always a delicate situation. Top it all off with the boy being somewhat clownish, the dad being Dracula, and hilarity ensues.
The Mavis character was very appealing and sympathetic, but she didn’t add much to the story. That tends to be the way with the female romantic lead, doesn’t it?
All of Dracula’s challenges were excellent reasons for plenty of visual humor and exciting action. I was never bored in the movie. The myriad monsters allowed for all kinds of physical gags. It’s great to see a feature film go cartoony like this. I mentioned how it didn’t get too rubbery. In my Ice Age 4 post, I pointed out how rubbery is funny and rigidity is scary. Dracula stood very rigid (the straight man?) , and this was the perfect contrast, to Jonathan being limber and expressive.
It was totally worth going to. I rate it “Pay full price at the theater”, and I am looking forward to the DVD to rewatch some of the animation. I met Genndy back when he was going to direct animated features with The Orphanage. Now I’m even more sorry that didn’t work out.