The Michael Jordan of cinema, Adam Sandler is out to conquer yet another genre – and ideally the comic superstar, whose been smashing his trademark lowbrow comedies out of the park for years now (the one where he played his own female twin, the one where he romanced box-office poison Jennifer Aniston, the one where he got to rewind and fast-forward to pivotal moments in his life – thanks to a magic remote Christopher Walken was giving out at Bed, Bath & Beyond one day), will make an impressive-enough slum dunk from his foray into family animation to make a few quid.
Though not technically Sandler’s first animated film – the other, “Eight Crazy Nights” was an unruly adults-only comedy that left no minority pale – ”Hotel Transylvania”, put together by the cats at Sony Animation, is the first aimed squarely at kids and, more importantly, the one with the biggest chance of financial success.
Creative, cute and crammed with an array of fun, recognizable characters, Transylvania is a computer-generated fable set largely in a hotel – open exclusively to monsters, so they don’t need to fear humans and can rest somewhere safe – run by Count Dracula (voiced by Sandler). The hotel has been successfully managed and operated for a number of years now, with not a sniff of humanity.
Regular occupants, like Frankenstein (Kevin James), the Wolfman (Steve Buscemi) and Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz), have come near-and-far to celebrate Dracula’s daughter’s (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday. But just as preparations start to get underway, a ‘human’ backpacker (Andy Samberg) walks through the hotel doors.
Not all bad, Dracula decides to let the amiable ‘Jonathan’ stay at the hotel, so long as he pretends to be a monster. It also goes without saying, he shouldn’t get too close to Dracula’s [soon-to-be-smitten] daughter.
Sandler and his usual bunch of cohorts, including Kevin James and Steve Buscemi, are absolutely terrific – even if it’s just their vocal work on acoustic exhibit – and perfectly cast in their respective roles. Sandler, especially, brings life to one of the most likeable and fun versions of Count Dracula to grace the screen in quite some time (and his rap song at the end of the film is a great moment). But the star of the show is undoubtedly the mixture of vivacious, vibrant animation and a warm, easy-to-watch – if sometimes a bit disorganized (plays a bit like a cross between ”Monster’s Inc”, ”Tangled” and ”Toy Story”) – storyline.
Directed by TV toon vet Genndy Tartakovsky , ”Hotel Transylvania” might not be at the standard of some of the Pixar or Dreamworks efforts – largely because the script has its flabby, unbalanced bits – but it’s totally deserving of the cinematic land it’s parked on.