Most children's films never capture my interest enough for me to run out to the theaters to see them; sure, they might have a good heartwarming plot that also appeals to adults, but I normally can't arouse any need to see them. All of that changes when horror is somehow involved, whether it be a focus on Halloween, or zombies, or skeletons. Hotel Transylvania, despite being an animated feature, immediately interested me because the entire film is set in the world of monsters, in a hotel of all places! That little bit of plot you could probably glean from title alone, but for the most part, Hotel Transylvania is a fresh animated comedy created for kids to see near Halloween, a film that won't totally scare them but will generate an interest in these spooky yet funny monsters.
That's not to say that the film doesn't have adults in mind as well. Anyone who loves Halloween in general will get a kick out of this hotel, a place hidden from humans because they are less than accepting of monsters in their world. Dracula (Adam Sandler), after losing his wife to a horde of villagers, brings his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) to this large castle hotel, where he raises her to fear humans because of the deadly misunderstanding he had with them the last time he saw. When Hotel Transylvania begins, it's Mavis' 118th birthday celebration, and Drac has brought in all of Mavis' cousins and uncles to celebrate her coming of age. But a human named Johnathan (Andy Samberg) happens to stumble onto castle grounds, creating some ghoulish and hilarious results.
While it's fairly obvious the direction the plot is taking pairing Johnathan and Mavis, the eerily wooded road to get there is a ton of fun. Hotel Transylvania pairs some classic monsters like Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, and the Wolf Man with some creative new personas; there's also a star-studded cast that voices them. The film is obviously taking cues from classic horror films, and it uses those genre staples to sarcastically mock them with various jokes, both slapstick and dialogue-driven. A lot of these jokes are funny for both children and adults, although some might fall flat for those adults who don't have a childlike sense of humor. There's a couple of fart jokes sure to please the kiddies, but there also some decidedly mature jokes that will float over the heads of most children.
Hotel Transylvania does the love story between Johnathan and Mavis well; perhaps it works because Samberg's role as Johnathan is hilariously apt. Johnathan is characterized as a free love, peace and harmony type of guy, and his obvious good-natured naivete makes for some very funny jokes. It also makes for a likable character, the type of protagonist that the audience can really root for.
If there's one area that feels a little shallow in the movie, though, it's the easy conflict resolution between Dracula and the humans. He's had a fairly terrible experience with humans, but he easily overlooks the past now that humans seem to worship monsters. This all happens rather fast, and it too easily erases a thousand years of Dracula's hatred of humans.
Still, as a kid-friendly Halloween movie, Hotel Transylvania is creepy-crawly fun, an excellent way to spend a rainy fall evening heralding the monster movies of old. It captures the kids' imagination, it works as escapism for the parents, and there are a ton of horror-related laughs to be had. This is one vampire movie that parents will actually want their kids to be obsessed with; let this right one in!