Looking through the murky depths of Adam Sandler’s filmography, it’s surprising to see that Hotel Transylvania, his billionth movie, is only his second family film after Eight Crazy Nights. However, this only comes in second to the surprise that it’s co-written by Peter Baynham, who brought us such kiddie friendly fare such as Arthur Christmas, Brass Eye and I’m Alan Partridge.
Contrary to popular belief, Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) is not the Bela Lugosi-shaped blood sucker we all know him to be. Rather than feasting on the blood of virgins and harassing the wives of estate agents, he’s actually a docile single father trying to balance the pressures of running a hotel for his fellow denizens of the night, with trying to protect his 118 year old daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), from the horrors of the outside world. If there’s one thing that truly horrifies him, it’s the thought of a human encroaching on his domain, and would you Adam and Eve it? Here comes a big box of trouble in the shape of clueless backpacker, Jonathan (Andy Samberg). What’s a Transylvanian nobleman to do!
Hotel Transylvania is unashamedly a kid’s movie, which is both complementary and damning. We know we laughed just as much as the munchkins in the audience with us, but coming out we struggled to remember any actual ‘jokes’. The zaniness of Samberg’s performance is counteracted by Gomez, whose years on the Disney channel have really helped her fine tune the art of blandness. And so it goes on.
Maybe the issue is with us, the thought of Genndy Tartakovsky directing Hotel Transylvania made us a bit giddy. With a pedigree that includes Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and 2 Stupid Dogs, we really wanted him to pull something special out of the bag. Unfortunately, the script by Robert Smigel and the aforementioned Baynham has very little in the way of originality; feeling like a mixture of Monsters Inc and Rent-a-Ghost with an ending that can be used by Ground Technicians to land planes. It all feels a bit, well, toothless.
This all makes it sound like Hotel Transylvania is a mediocre film, which is far from the truth. The problem seems to be that on the one hand, we have a film that celebrates the art of the fart joke with a plot that’s plotted simply enough for the ankle-biters to follow. However, on the other hand, we have a weakly plotted film with a penchant for breaking wind. Which side of the age of 10 you land on will probably determine how you feel after those 90 minutes are over.