Susan Granger’s review of “Hotel Transylvania” (Columbia Pictures/Sony Animation)
Back in 1895, Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) welcomed a beloved baby girl. Skip forward 118 years and now-teenage vampire Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) yearns to escape from her over-protective father’s cavernous castle, which is exclusively inhabited by a motley variety of misunderstood Eastern European monsters – like Frankenstein (voiced by Kevin James), Quasimodo (voiced by Jon Lovitz),The Invisible Man (voiced by David Spade), The Mummy (voiced by CeeLo Green) and a rowdy werewolf family, headed by Wayne (voiced by Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (voiced by Molly Shannon), among others – including a toilet-clogging Yeti , who is so tall you can only see its furry feet.
On the eve of her birthday, along comes Jonathan (voiced by comedian Andy Samberg), a grubby, iPod-toting American backpacker in search of adventurous lodging for the night. The predictably romantic attraction is immediate but there’s a “Twilight” problem: Mavis is a vampire and Jonathan is human. But movie-goers have faced that kind of misunderstood fang mythology before, right?
Sketchily scripted by Peter Baynham (“Arthur Christmas”) and Robert Smigel (TV’s “Saturday Night Live”), it’s energetically directed by TV ‘toon helmer Genndy Tartovsky (“Dexter’s Laboratory,” “The Powerpuff Girls,” “Samurai Jack”) with a ghoulish production design by Marcelo Vignali and musical score by Mark Mothersbaugh,
With his coffin-shaped head, Dracula bears little resemblance to Bela Lugosi; instead, according to press notes, animators were inspired by Rudolph Valentino, known to silent film fans as The Sheik, along with goofy Count Chocula, off the cereal box.
On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “Hotel Transylvania” is a fitfully funny 5. Aimed for the very young, it’s a stale, sloppy fright-fest that is destined to take a quick detour to the DVD shelf, where it will inevitably stake its claim.