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Hotel Transylvania

Hotel Transylvania

Released 12 October 2012
Director Genndy Tartakovsky

Adam Sandler, Selina Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, David Spade, Cee-lo Green, Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Andy Samberg
Writer(s) Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel
Producer(s) Michelle Murdocca
Origin United States
Running Time 91 minutes
Genre Animation, comedy
Rating PG

Overstays its welcome.

You have to hand it to Bram Stoker, it’s been over 100 years since he published his novel Dracula and filmmakers are still coming up with new ways to interpret the character. Unfortunately Hotel Transylvania is not likely to rank highly among these reinventions, despite (or perhaps because of) the massive deviation from the source material.

When Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) gets tired of sucking blood and being generally evil, he decides to open a secret hotel for monsters to escape the persecution of the human world that wants to chase them away with torches and pitchforks. But his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), who has grown up in the safety of Castle Dracula, longs for her chance to get out and see the real world. This is something her father will stop at nothing to prevent, and so Dracula becomes a very different kind of bad guy – the over-protective father.

Hyped as the directional debut of animator Genndy Tartakovsky (the guy behind Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls) Hotel Transylvania shows little of the visual flare of Tartakovsky’s small screen work, and serves as little more than an attempt to follow in the mould of Despicable Me.

The slick computer animation, packed with colour and detail and constantly alive with movement, is by far the best thing about Hotel Transylvania. While it never comes close to the epic artistic scope of Samurai Jack (easily one of the most cinematic cartoons ever made) the film does well to utilise its 3D effects to make the characters and locations jump out at the audience, while at the same time retaining the light-hearted cartoony feel that few computer animated films have managed to achieve. Unfortunately almost every other aspect of the film lets it down.

The story is totally bland and forgettable, and most of the characters are downright annoying. Sandler’s Count Dracula is irritating beyond belief, with a cringe inducing, "I vant to suck your blood" accent. The rest of the guests in the hotel (Kevin James as Frankenstein’s monster, Steve Buscemi as the wolfman, Cee Lo Green as the Mummy and David Spade as the invisible man) are even worse. Just about the only member of the voice cast who isn’t terrible is Selena Gomez, although her angsty teen vampire seems to have been written with the explicit purpose of hitting just about every cliché in the book.

The disjoined unevenness of Hotel Transylvania could perhaps be explained by the fact that the film had an extended production time of over five years, during which at least half-dozen directors boarded the project only to depart shortly after, unable to get a grip on the film's tone or story. Tartakovsky came in at a late stage to sort out the mess, but the film still feels like lots of little ideas that have been badly stitched together and unnaturally brought to life like Frankenstein’s monster.

- Bernard O’Rourke