hotel transylvania poster Hotel Transylvania

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

Writers: Peter Baynham (screenplay), Robert Smigel (screenplay), Todd Durham (story), Dan Hageman (story), Kevin Hageman (story)

Stars: Adam Sandler (voice), Andy Samberg (voice), Selena Gomez (voice), Kevin James (voice), Fran Drescher (voice)

In 1895, the birth of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) makes it clear to Dracula (Adam Sandler) that he must do something about the horrible danger that humans pose to the monster community. So he builds a haven, a safe place . . . Hotel Transylvania.

Surrounded by four hundred acres of haunted forest, it has become the vacation destination of choice for non-humans. Dracula has become a surprisingly good hotelier, handling the day-to-day crises that having such interesting guests would inevitably result in.

As the hotel goes up, we see Mavis growing up. She learns to turn into a bat and fly (with a helmet!–too cute). Dracula is a delightfully overprotective father, keeping her safe from all the usual things that fathers worry about (boys!) as well as those frightful humans.

This is a wonderfully funny take on all of the classic monsters–not just Dracula and Frankenstein, werewolves and zombies–everyone is in this one. From giant spiders to yetis, from a whirling dervish to Quasimodo, even the invisible man puts in an appearance (or seems to) in this family-friendly homage to everything we love about monster movies. There’s a zombie mariachi band playing for the guests on their arrival to the hotel, and even the “Do Not Disturb” signs are inventive–individual shrunken heads. With attitude.

The joy of showing what someone would do if they had magic in their everyday life is priceless: Dracula does things effortlessly (he’s been at it for centuries) and inventively. But it’s not fun anymore. Enter Jonny (Andy Samberg), a human hiker who inadvertently finds his way to the hotel. He not only shows Dracula and all the old monsters how to find joy again, he introduces Mavis to a whole new raft of possibilities, and someone that she could see the world with.

This is far and away the most fun I’ve ever had at an Adam Sandler film–he make a terrific Dracula. Selena Gomez is just petulant enough as Mavis to be tremendous fun, and Andy Samberg is wonderfully clueless as Jonny, the hapless human who wanders in.

Hotel Transylvania ends with a group partying and rapping–it reminded me of a live FuMP show.

Certainly a fun afternoon’s entertainment. With monsters, even.

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