Several Halloween-ish movies came out late last year, but due to business of my last semester at SJSU I wasn’t able to see any of them. Paranorman and Frankenweenie have already left the theatres, but to my surprise Hotel Transylvania was still playing at the local discount theatre. I went to see it on New Year’s Eve with Seanie and Jeannie and Jeannie’s friend Karla.
The basic plot is this: Dracula (Adam Sandler) is the owner of the Hotel Transylvania, a retreat for monsters from the cruel human world. He built it after his wife was killed by an angry mob in order to protect his infant daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). 118 years later, Mavis is ready to go out and see the world, but her overly protective father wants to keep her safe in his labyrinthine resort. He nearly has her convinced that the human world is a horrible, unsafe place, but a young hostel-hopping slacker-adventurer named Jonathan (Adam Samberg) somehow finds the hotel, threatening to upset Dracula’s careful plans.
I saw a reviewer describe this movie as not good enough to like or bad enough to hate, and that pretty much sums up my feeling about it. When I watched it, I laughed a few times, but they were the light half-giggles one makes over a throwaway joke soon forgotten. Ha-ha, the Wolfman’s kids are like untrained puppies. Ha-ha, Dracula makes scary faces when he’s angry. Things like this.
The two “human” characters – Jonathan and Mavis (who is technically a vampire but always acts like sixteen-going-on-seventeen teenager) are so alternatingly bland and annoying that I just wanted both of them to go away. Jonathan is one of those kids wandering the world, living out of a backpack as he hitchhikes and staggers his way from one smelly hostel to the next. His lack of vitality is all the more obvious when he’s surrounded by monsters like Frankenstein and the Wolfman. It’s baffling just what Mavis finds so appealing in him, but thanks to her father she’s been so sheltered that just about any human would fascinate her.
I actually liked this Count Dracula. Something about Sandler’s rather Jewish Legosi-esque bloodsucker works, although I can’t put my finger on what it was. It might simply be that his love for his daughter shining through that makes him appealing, but I think it is also that he retains the dignity and gravitas that separates Dracula from other monsters. Maybe.
I don’t think I ever need to see this movie again. I’ve heard that they’re already working on a sequel; did this movie really make enough money to warrant that? Strange. I hope the other Halloween movies are better.