For better or for worse, our family goes to see a lot of children’s movies. This weekend we attended an advanced screening of Hotel Transylvania, the latest from Sony Animation/Columbia Picture and I have to say it is one of the best kids films we’ve seen in a long, long time. Everyone loved it – my husband and me, and our kids ages 3, 7 and 9.
The film centers around Hotel Transylvania, a “five stake” resort that was lovingly built by Dracula to keep his only daughter Mavis safely away from the evils of the human world. The Hotel prides itself on providing a safe, human-free vacation experience for monsters (since 1898), and once a year all the monsters come to visit for Mavis’s birthday. This year, she’s turning 118 and her father has promised to let Mavis out to see the world – a promise he has a hard time keeping to his teenage daughter.
As the Hotel Transylvania’s main claim to fame is its incredible security, you can imagine Dracula’s despair when Jonathan, a 21-year-old backpacker, suddenly appears in the hotel’s lobby. Unable to find a suitable way to dispatch him, Dracula is forced to disguise Jonathan as Johnnystein, Frankenstein’s long-lost cousin, and Drac and Jonathan must find a way to get along. Not helping matters is the mutual admiration Jonathan and Mavis share with each other.
The movie is all good fun, with a few bigger messages interwoven such as the difficulty parents have letting their kids go, and how different populations – in this case the humans and the monsters – can learn to get along with a little understanding and cooperation between such seemingly incompatible groups.
The film is filled with jokes for both the kids (Mavis loves to eat a bagel with scream cheese) and the adults (human Jonathan demurs from eating any, claiming he’s “scream cheese intolerant”). The film has lots of witty banter and clever dialogue, including a stream of hilarious pet names the doting Dracula Dad calls his daughter from his little ghoul to his sweet blood orange.
Unlike ParaNorman, which is a downright creepy movie which could easily scare younger kids, there’s nothing really scary in Hotel Transylvania, which despite being about monsters is really all about fun. While Dracula does occasionally show his inner-evil when trying to scare away the meddling human, it is always followed by a joke and some laughs. Even Dracula himself is exaggerated to comic proportions, going by Drac for short.
The film stars an amazing cast of voices with Adam Sandler as Dracula, Selena Gomez as daughter Mavis, and Andy Samburg as Jonathan the Backpacker. There are also a bevy of other memorable monsters, the voices behind them include Fran Drescher, Kevin James, Molly Shannon, David Spade and CeeLo Green.
I highly recommend going to see Hotel Transylvania, you von’t be sorry, blah, blah, blah!
Hotel Transylvania opens this Friday, September 28. For more about the film, follow Hotel Transylvania on Twitter ( @HotelT), like Hotel Transylvania on Facebook, or visit the film’s site: HotelTransylvania.com.
This film has been rated PG by the MPAA for Some Rude Humor, Action and Scary Images.
Disclosure: I received press passes to the movie for review purposes as well as an invite to an after-party at Dylan’s Candy Bar. All opinions are my own.