A refreshingly folksy and unassuming tale painting monsters of legend as loveable oddballs persecuted by humanity just for being different. Dracula, brought to life by the inimitable Adam Sandler, builds a spectacularly secure castle-cum-hotel deep in Transylvania with two goals in mind: keeping his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) safe, and providing a sanctuary (with reasonable nightly rates!) for his fellow creatures of nightmare. With a small army of zombie bellhops, a fleet of witches on broomsticks serving as housekeeping, and guests running the gamut from a shell-shocked werewolf couple overrun with maliciously rambunctious offspring to a jovial mummy named Murray, this is definitely not your average resort. Dracula is a genial host, unless you look at Mavis wrong, in which case he’s an overprotective bloodthirsty fiend. After centuries of self-imposed isolation, Drac is horrified when a lone backpacker (Andy Samberg) arrives at the castle and he subsequently goes to ridiculous lengths to preserve his hotel’s reputation as an impregnable haven (“human-free since 1898!”). It’s a classic coming-of-age story tinged with sadness as both father and daughter grieve for wife and mother Martha, slain by a stereotypical mob armed with torches and pitchforks. While it is clever, undeniably funny (the hilarious jab at the Twilight movies!) and definitely pulls on your heartstrings, I would hesitate to show this to younger children. It does a good job of re-branding scary supernatural creatures (à la Monsters, Inc.), but there were quite a few scares that had me jumping out of my 36-year-old skin. A cute but with something serious to say film kept aloft by a beautifully paced script, I really did enjoy Hotel Transylvania and while it isn’t necessarily what I would term an instant classic, it is definitely worthy of a solid five stars. – BETHANY
For more on the voices behind Hotel Transylvania and other stuff about the movie, visit: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0837562/?ref_=nv_sr_2
The grand edifice itself. Inviting, no?
This is actually quite impressive. It’s just a skeleton but obviously female.
Monsters read their children scary stories about humans.
Murray (CeeLo Green) Wanda and Wayne (Molly Shannon and Steve Buscemi) and Frank (Kevin James).
Drac (Adam Sandler) doesn’t always know how to relate to his teenage daughter. He’s single father, after all.
Quit playing with the zombies. Those are expensive, you know!
Don’t mess with Mavis, or Drac will go Full Fiend on you.
Backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) does tend to wander into trouble.
The werewolf kids.
A witch from housekeeping zooming by with more firewood.
Photos courtesy of Columbia Pictures and Sony Pictures Animation