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A monster vacation.

As a child I was frightened of what lurked in the shadows C* well, I still am! Who knows what types of monsters are hiding under my bed?

But, what if these creatures, which have faced a lifetime of hounding and being stabbed by pitchforks, are actually scared of us and are looking for shelter in a safe haven? What better place to find refuge than Hotel Transylvania.

Director Genndy Tartakovsky, whose name itself sounds like he could be from Transylvania, moves away from his usual Cartoon Network Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory animations and provides viewers with something a little darker.

The movie is a 91-minute hyperactive experience. From the beginning to the end, the colourful monsters and the lowbrow antics keep the spectators' eyes busy in a fun but forgettable family movie.

The story, which was very similar to Finding Nemo but not as impressive, follows Count Dracula (Sandler), an overprotective dad to Mavis (Selena Gomez), whose mother passed away while she was a baby.

Convinced that humans are a threat, Dracula builds a hidden castle-like hotel in the woods where monsters can take refuge (and where he can hide vampire Mavis forever). However, he only has one warning: never light big fires or fireworks.

Coming up to Mavis' 118th birthday, creatures from across the world, including zombies, mummies, Frankenstein, a hunchback chef, an invisible man, a wolf and a slime blob come to the hotel for a holiday, all while celebrating the 'little' girl's big day.

However, Mavis wants nothing more than to leave the premises, travel the world and visit 'paradise' aka Hawaii C* and she believes she's old enough to do so. Keeping his promise from 30 years ago Dracula allows Mavis to go out and explore.

However, when Mavis leaves the castle, a staged rendezvous by Dracula -- in an attempt to show her that all humans are bad -- goes wrong and causes a fire to break out, which ultimately results in Mavis 'flying' back to the hotel.

After spotting the fire while camping, Jonathan (Samberg), a human, unintentionally finds the hotel. Dracula is then forced to dress him up as 'Frankenstein's hand cousin' (don't ask) so the other monsters don't think that their safety has been breached.

Jonathan and Mavis soon hit it off and Dracula must come to the realisation that humans may have moved past their torch burning days.

Between the overprotective fathers, the teenage girl rebelling against his wishes and the daft surfer dude in the theatre, the audience will pretty much be able to predict what happens.

The film suffocates viewers with slapstick comedy. Although some could argue that this is what kids find entertaining, it still shifts too quickly from one joke to the next with no time for them to sink in.

The characters may have been likeable, as far as villains go, but none of them were given genuine character moments for the audience to feel any emotion. In the last scene, where a heartfelt and thoughtful scene concludes the story of love and judgment, not a single emotion, other than relief that it was ending, came upon me.

Having said this, it's a shame the script sucked even though Sandler is joined by a stellar cast providing warm characters. David Spade as the invisible man, Kevin James as Frankenstein, Jon Lovitz as the hunchback and finally, my favourite, Steve Buscemi as a wolf worn to shreds by his cubs, all made the movie worthwhile.

The movie does take punches at human stereotypes with us getting 'fatter and lazier' and not to mention ruining the image of vampires with Twilight. Yet, it still doesn't live up to other recent animated comedy releases. Despite the talent, I would only recommend this movie to anyone aged below 10.

*Showing in Dana Cinema

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Nov 29, 2012
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