Review by George Gensler
Hotel Transylvania: It Don’t Mean a Thing if it Ain’t Got that Zing!
Full disclosure: I hate spoilers in reviews, so there won’t be any in this one.
I have been looking forward to Hotel Transylvania since I saw the preview months ago. It’s full of cartoon monsters and there were plenty of funny lines in the trailer. But the story is something else entirely.
Hotel Transylvania is the story of a single dad (Dracula) trying to raise his daughter (Mavis). He’s very protective of her and goes to great lengths to shield her from the evils of the world. Hotel Transylvania is just one aspect of that shield. He has an extended support system of fellow monsters and their families, making up the village it takes to raise this baby. The story revolves around a special birthday party, so the hotel is full and there are monsters everywhere.
The Backstory – Because of centuries of abuse by humans, Dracula wanted to create a haven for monsters, so they could come out of the shadows on vacation, and to keep his daughter safe from humans. The hotel was built to be hidden from humans with various deterring features in the surrounding country-side, however mayhem ensues when a new monster appears, challenging the monsters’ points of view.
The Characters – All of the classic monsters are here: Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his bride (very funnily expressed by Fran Drescher); the Wolfman (played by Steve Buscemi) also with bride (Molly Shannon) and dozens of werepups (who provided many moments of comic relief); Murray the Mummy (CeeLo Green); a very wryly played Invisible Man (David Spade) and, of course, Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his lovely daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). Andy Samberg made an appearance, as well, as Frankenstein’s “cousin,” Johnny.
The Themes – the anti-bullying message is very strong, as is the different can be good message. A recurring theme in movies lately is the reversal of roles from victims to attackers and this film hit on that, too. Fear of the unknown can make people do ugly things. True love is the main theme, in my mind. Dracula’s love for his daughter, Mavis’ love for her dad, the monsters love for each other, the . . . oh, wait – that would spoil it for you. Watch and see. Love moves all kinds of barriers in this movie.
Don’t miss the start of this movie. Columbia has something up her sleeve, so to speak. There are some very sweet moments (Dracula’s nicknames for Mavis), but keep your eyes peeled for the wonderful visual gags (my favorite was the toadstool, but we all laughed at monster bingo). Mavis’ pouty bat face is adorable, too!
I loved this movie, because it was sweet and funny, but also because the characters were very real (for animated monsters) and because the relationships between them were honest and relatable. If I were a vampire baby, I’d want this Dracula to be my Daddy and I’d want an Uncle Frank, an Uncle Murray and an Uncle Wayne too. There were some brief, scary moments (it is a monster movie, after all, but I think most children can handle it. There was a toddler sitting next to me in the screening and I never heard a peep out of him. The soundtrack is excellent, too.
An extra bit of fun at the screening was the pre-screening party. We were treated to drinks, including a very red punch, snacks, candies, and, on various tables, there were t-shirts and bookcovers, and the guests of honor were the monsters, who appeared suddenly and graciously allowed us humans to capture them in photographs. One young boy was momentarily frightened out of his wits when Dracula tapped him on the shoulder, but recovered quickly to pose for a picture.
Bio: George Gensler is a copyrights specialist during the week and a runner on the weekends. She lives in New York City now, but has lived in five countries on three continents. She grew up traveling the world, but her official residence was in Southern California and every visit home included a trip to Disneyland. She has also visited every Disney Park around the world and sailed on board two Disney cruises. She threw in a visit to the Disney Family museum in San Francisco for good measure, and has had the Premier Disney Park Pass since its inception.