Count Dracula tries to get an image makeover in Hotel Transylvania, although the transition from creepy bloodsucker to doting dad hasn’t done the venerable vampire any favors.
This 3D animated tale wants to be a subversive comedy that showcases the softer side of our favorite monsters from film, literature and pop culture. Instead, it just winds up being a chaotic and somewhat annoying misfire.
In the film, the Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) operates a luxury hotel for monsters (his most frequent guests include Frankenstein’s monster, a mummy and a werewolf couple, among others), designed to be an oasis far out of the reach of the humans who have persecuted them and given them a bad reputation over the years.
The hotel also is home to Dracula’s teenage daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), who wants nothing more than to see the world instead of hearing about it through his overprotective dad’s fabricated tales of danger. When an adventurous human teenager (Andy Samberg) accidentally finds his way through the doors of the hotel, however, it makes life more complicated for Dracula and Mavis alike.
The film is innocuous enough to pacify children, who might recognize the characters from their trick-or-treating exploits but probably won’t be bothered with the lessons of family bonding and parental responsibility.
Directed by veteran animator Genndy Tartakovsky (TV’s “Dexter’s Laboratory”), the film’s screenplay was penned by “Saturday Night Live” mainstay Robert Smigel and Peter Baynham (Arthur Christmas). It doesn’t represent the best of work of any of them.
The voice cast fares slightly better, including Sandler, who channels Bela Lugosi in his portrayal of the Prince of Darkness. Other recognizable voices in smaller roles include Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, David Spade, Molly Shannon and Cee-Lo Green.
Hotel Transylvania makes decent use of its 3D effects, yet by aggressively emphasizing style over substance, the film seems to cater primarily to children with short attention spans by filling the screen with slapstick action and zany noises as often as possible.
The concept has comic potential, but it misses a larger opportunity to satirize some of its characters, instead only offering a few mildly amusing sight gags amid the mayhem.
Rated PG, 91 minutes.