The whole time Hotel Transylvania played I sat frozen in terror. Judging by the general lack of creativity on display, I was absolutely sure the cast of gangly animated monsters would break out into a rendition of Monster Mash. If they couldn't work it in to the regular running time, they sure wouldn't miss the opportunity to shoehorn it into the credits.
I wasn't going to be able to handle the Monster Mash performance when it came. I knew it was destined to force me to hate a movie that I sort of liked, and I loathed that prospect. Luckily the catastrophe never came, and all my suspense was for naught.
That's just the way the movie goes, doing little to dazzle you but less to offend. Given half a chance, the kid-friendly monster romance will sink its fangs into you and convert you into its ranks of the gleeful undead. Like a giddy grandma on Halloween, it dispenses candy giddily, at least for your eyes and ears. The Count Chocula/Boo Berry-like animated style, along with the impossibly star-studded voice cast, jolts electric shocks into the dead, patched-together screenplay to pump what passes for life into the stumbling, Karlovian monstrosity, which you can only gawk at as it innocently stumbles about.
Adam Sandler voices none other than Dracula, who has created a sanctuary from monsterkind by building a mansion boardinghouse sequestered beyond a haunted forest. Mummies, hags, trolls, werewolves and the like scurry for protection from humans, which they imagine to be terrifying hunters of their kind. They all adore Drac's shelter, except for Mavis (Selenea Gomez), Drac's daughter, who longs to escape and check out the world of man for herself. Looking to protect his fresh-faced 118-year-old girl, Dracula conspires to trick Mavis into wanting to stay.
There's a lot of Monsters Inc., Little Mermaid and even a little Finding Nemo going on here. Drawing from classics, however, does not necessarily a great film make. The slapstick tries too hard, the verbal exchanges are as limp and tattered as the mummy's bandages, and the love story, pairing Mavis with extreme-dude Jonathan (Andy Samberg) is about as appetizing as Drac finds garlic.
But at least there is no Master Mash, which counts for something. Plus, the movie openly mocks Twilight, which scores it enough points to get me to drop my torch and pitchfork.
Starring the voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, David Spade, Jon Lovitz, Molly Shannon, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi and CeeLo Green. Written by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel, based on a story by Todd Durham, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. 91 minutes. Rated PG.
My novel, Stormin' Mormon, is available as a Kindle book for $1.