Hotel Transylvania Review

Monster houses and the trivial adaptation of once frightening literature classics is the inevitable outcome and prospect of working to hit references and deadlines of a Hollywood machine that is penetrated by consumerism. If it works for Illumination Entertainment and those sickly yellow Minions then it can work for the once-revolutionary staples of the Universal Monsters franchise. They have been tossed around from studio to studio with remarkable frequency. Bram Stoker, had he lived long enough to see the revolutionary state of feature filmmaking, would no doubt be turning in his grave. It would be another century before his original vision of a monster haunting Whitby would be given the Adam Sandler treatment, which is what Hotel Transylvania does, among other horrors.

The struggle of adapting familiarised characters and toning them down for larger audiences is that it glosses over unique ideas. Nobody can deny that Sony Pictures Animation has made a financially sound move, but it is an ethically unclear one. The target audience will not know the characters, if they do it will not be from the source material. Even those introduced to the fear-inducing classic horror characters will care little for a comic ensemble that sets them up for pratfall after pratfall. Not just physical comedy from the rounded shapes and soulless gloss that overcomes Sandler and company, but through a script reliant on the dumbing down of literary classics. It is not the simplicity that beckons much controversy, but the jokes that form them.

Dracula as the resident caregiver is a nice enough twist. It is a focus of comedy that works well. There is no respect high enough to warrant a character being moved solely into its field of work. Dracula has worked in comedy before and will again. Van Helsing and Dracula: Dead and Loving It may not be the best examples but they are examples of toying with the Stoker original and the legacy of the character in a way that knocks it down a peg or two. That is too deep for Hotel Transylvania and the target audience. But when so many unique and well-styled animations are appealing to a core demographic of adults and children by providing a timeless and broad range of humour, it feels as though Hotel Transylvania misses a trick or two. It has the stereotypes of the characters down to a tee, but there is little more to it than that.

A shame, too, since Hotel Transylvania boasts a hefty cast. If anything, this Genndy Tartakovsky feature will serve as an example of wasteful filmmaking. It is gluttonous with its casting and the performances do not replicate the quality these names often bring. Even for a feature directed for children, Hotel Transylvania has little within that could keep a nostalgic audience coming back for more, nor does it offer anything unbelievably creative or interesting to teach children with. Monsters should not run a hotel. That is, presumably, the rule of thumb to follow and what Tartakovsky is trying to teach. That, or Steve Buscemi makes for a convincingly annoyed Werewolf.

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