Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) don’t scare up many laughs.
HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA (Genndy Tartakovsky). 91 minutes. Opens Friday (September 28). See listings. Rating: NN
Dracula is best known as the overlord of the night, but in Hotel Transylvania he's an overprotective father - and nightmarishly so. Too bad the movie is defanged.
In present-day Transylvania, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) is throwing a 118th birthday party for his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) at his monsters-only hotel. For her entire life he's lied to her about the outside world to keep (you could argue entrap) her in the castle. But when backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the ghastly guest house, he shakes things up by falling for Mavis. When his human origins are discovered, however, their budding interspecies love is challenged.
It's Genndy Tartakovsky first feature film after a decade and a half in television. He manages to sustain its manic energy with a rotating cast of ghoulishly cute creatures that generate some laughs.
But even this peaks early on, and soon the head-in-a-box gags wear thin. While Sandler sustains one of his trademark goofy voices throughout and Samberg nails the slacker dude shtick, their characters never seem truly animated (pardon the pun), lacking any real emotional depth.
In the end, Hotel feels creepy for the wrong reasons: essentially holding his daughter captive, Dracula isn't merely ancient but conservatively old-fashioned.