Film Review: Hotel Transylvania (Sony Pictures Animation; 2012)

By Peter McLoughlin @PeterGownArts It’s often difficult to tell who animated films are targeting, and Hotel Transylvania is no different. If there is an underlying moral to the film, it is that parents should not re-enforce their own irrational fear in their children – and nor should they restrict their children’s growth by coddling them past their teenage years. All quite true, and a commendable message to try and put across, of course, but if you’re wondering what that has to do with children enjoying an animated Halloween film; then don’t worry – you’re not alone. Adam Sandler stars as Count Dracula, a widowed father of one 118 year old girl (Selena Gomez). He runs the most popular hotel for monsters in the world, and contrary to the common take on the genre, it is the monsters who are scared of contact with humans in the outside world. Their (probably correct) assertion that the ‘humans’ would mercilessly kill them is challenged by the arrival at the hotel of an adventurous peregr

inating human. Played by Andy Samberg, ‘Jonathan’ is a stereotypical, but likeable, Californian backpacker who, upon his unexpected arrival, pretends to be a monster. He is accepted into the group, who are there to celebrate Dracula’s daughter’s birthday, and he quickly educates the mottled group of reserved monsters on the real way to have a good time: throwing your body around and generally acting like a big child. Again, quite true. Despite keeping the traditional elements of the fairy-tale genre intact, Hotel Transylvania manages to create enjoyable

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twists on many familiar characters- ensuring the film stays fresh. The laughs for the kids came in the moments of slapstick humour and visual silliness – of which there was certainly enough to keep the kids from getting restless. But most of the comedy in the script flew straight over the heads of the kids in attendance, and that is another reason for my initial consideration. The amount of clearly adult humour, alongside the underlying ‘message’ in the film, seems oddly adult-directed. I suppose, if it encourages, however unlikely, over-bearing and unwittingly scare-mongering parents to reconsider their negative approach to parenting, then it will be no bad thing. Hotel Transylvania is a standard, unexciting but enjoyable animated film. Its ‘moral’ is one of positive interaction with the world at large, for both adult and child, and for that it should be both commended and recommended.