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A goofy, easy-enough watch for adults and children alike, Hotel Transylvania doesn’t, by any stretch of imagination, make for a memorable film. It makes for a fair watch on television, perhaps, but not much more.
It has been a while since audiences were treated to a truly great animation film; in no way does Hotel Transylvania change that fact. Meant as a thrilling, comic take on Count Dracula and other famous ‘monsters’ from pop-culture, Hotel Transylvania, directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, doesn’t offer nearly as many laughs as one would have liked, nor does it manage to particularly thrill the audience much. Still, it makes for a fair watch, provided you are familiar enough with the quirks of some of our eternal ‘other-worldly’ characters.
Count Dracula adores his daughter, Mavis, beyond belief. To protect her from the grotesqueness of mankind, he builds a secluded but lavish hotel, far from prying human eyes, where she can grow up; a safe haven for her as well others of his ilk. Unfortunately of course, Mavis is at the age where her curiosity has now been piqued – she wants to encounter humans. Meanwhile young Jonathan, a simple, lovable human not beyond the odd acts of buffoonery, inadvertently stumbles upon the castle now housing a host of creatures of the night.
Tartakovsky, not a stranger to exploring idiosyncracies of outlandish, accented characters, doesn’t seem to have made much progress from his Dexter’s Lab days. There are some genuine smile-inducing as well as laugh-out-loud moments in the film; I don’t normally laugh during even the funniest of films, but I did a couple of times in this one. Still, the genuinely funny moments are too few in number because most of them are just too predictable. I mean, how many people still find garlic jokes on a vampire funny?
The film does flirt with a very important theme – that of ‘them’ and ‘us’. The manner in which monsters fear humans, attributing them with terrible traits and alarming accessories meant to persecute and torture monsters, does make you stop for a second and wonder just how these mythical monsters emerged from the recesses of human thought. And if they do really exist, isn’t it quite likely that they would be as terrified of us as we are of them? After all, and this is no secret, humans are easily the most terrible creatures in all of existence. This segregation of monsters and human beings also draws parallels between how humans, divided even between ourselves, have serious misconceptions about the ‘other’. Not that one gets to dwell much on these thoughts in the midst of the on-screen shenanigans.
Adam Sandler, who voices Dracula, is easily the pick of the cast. He gets the best lines and is also the most appealing character in terms of story as well as the animation. Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez as Jonathan and Mavis respectively, are extremely endearing as well, as are the other side character voices. The overall animation isn’t particularly impressive, while the 3D is hardly inspiring. It seemed like the only real purpose it served is for the audience to watch and enjoy the 3D trailer of ‘Oz: The Great and Powerful’. The film itself seemed largely two-dimensional in its visuals; it would possibly have had a far more vibrant feel without the dark glasses.
While Hotel Transylvania could possibly make for a fun outing for children, I’m not sure if today’s kids are particularly aware of the characters in the film – Dracula, Frankenstein and the likes - to be taken in by all the ribbing and tomfoolery at their expense. Or maybe I’m just not giving them enough credit. The film could make for a fun watch if there were enough people in the know, for company. Otherwise, it makes for an indifferent animation film experience.
This review is by guest reviewer Pradeep Menon. Pradeep is a filmmaker and a dreamer. He loves books, rain, winters, tea and his parents. Cinema, however, is the only truth he believes in. He breathes and bleeds film, mostly in hues of saffron, white, green and blue. You can watch his short films at www.youtube.com/cyberpradeep.
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