Saturday, October 22, 2016

Hotel Transylvania (2012) = A Nonlethal Varsity

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I don’t know why, but when I get free stuff, my standards seem to be a lot lower.  This applies even when I have a wide range of selections to choose from.  Take Redbox.  Occasionally, I get codes for free movies, but the codes have to be used that day.  One of the problems with Redbox is that I can’t always get my first choice.  Sometimes, I can’t even get my second or third choice.  Since I’m already at the kiosk, wasting the code seems like a bad idea.  Even if I don’t like the movie, I’ll get a review out of it.

Hotel Transylvania was such a title.  I’m not a huge fan of Adam Sandler.  I knew going into this that he voiced Dracula, but he was at least tolerable in Click, so I figured that I’d give Hotel Transylvania a chance.  If you’re reading this, it means that I’ve gotten my review out of it and have commenced forgetting about the movie.

The story is that Dracula wants to protect his daughter, Mavis.  He hasn’t had the best of luck with humans.  Most monsters are of similar mind, so Dracula opened Hotel Transylvania.  The idea was that he’d build it someplace that humans wouldn’t know about and would set things up so that they wouldn’t want to go there even if they stumbled upon it.

Well, everyone’s coming over for Mavis’s 118th birthday celebration and wouldn’t you know it, a human named Johnny happens to stumble upon the hotel.  (Actually, he follows some monsters back from Dracula’s ill-advised attempt to trick Mavis into staying at the hotel.)  Anyway, Dracula notices Johnny before anyone else does.  Killing him outright is out of the question.  He can’t have him stay, though, for fear of upsetting the guests.  Sneaking him out proves problematic, so Dracula tries to hide Johnny as a long-lost relative of the right arm of Frankenstein’s monster, Johnny Stein.  Every attempt to deal with Johnny causes further complications, eventually leading to Johnny meeting (and falling for) Mavis.

This is what makes up most of the movie’s 91 minutes.  It’s Dracula being an overprotective father and making a few mistakes along the way, then having to fix them in the end when he realizes what it will really take to make his daughter happy.  Along the way, you have a lot of familiar monsters, at least in name.  You have Wayne the Wolfman, Frankenstein’s Monster, Eunice (a.k.a. Bride of Frankenstein), Quasimodo, the Invisible Man and so on.  I don’t think any of them act the way that they did in the movie.  Frankenstein is very friendly, for instance, even if he does fall apart on occasion.  Wayne is also normal father that tries to provide for his wife and many children.

It was a good movie, but it wasn’t great.  The one big drawback was Fran Drescher.  Had I known she was in the movie, I probably would have rented something else.  As with Sandler, I’m not particularly a big fan.  She wasn’t bad in this movie, but knowing that both were in this movie probably would have killed it.  There were a lot of people that I did like, such as Steve Buscemi, CeeLo Green and Jon Lovitz.

I also wasn’t a big fan of the style of animation.  It was a little exaggerated for me.  As I said, I was renting this for free, so I figured I’d at least try it.  However, animation is already a strike for some people.  Even for those that like animation, they may not like this style.  There were also a few scary moments when Dracula tried to intimidate Johnny.  It wasn’t wet-your-pants scary, but I was caught off guard and thought that it was a little out of place for a comedy.  We’re talking a few shots, a second or two each.

Ultimately, I have to learn to be more selective the next time I go to Redbox.   I think part of the problem with Redbox is that I tend to feel a little rushed and given the limited selection, I usually get the first thing that seems safe rather than take my time to find something I like.  Getting a movie like Hotel Transylvania is the result.  It wasn’t a horrible movie, but it wasn’t a great movie, either. 

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