Check In And Check Out HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA October 8, 2012 – Posted in: A Picture's Worth, Blog, Featured Columns
Pop culture and other perspectives with an artistic P.O.V. By Mike Pascale.
All contents ©2012 Mike Pascale. Visual content ©2012 their respective owner(s).
Finally got to see Sony’s latest animated entry, HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA. Quick pros and cons:
–Loved much of the animation. The director, Genndy Tartakovsky, also created SAMURAI JACK; the quick-cuts and jumpy style show the connection. But what I really enjoyed were the fast-paced, over-the-top movements, exaggeration/characterization and double-takes taken right out of classic Tex Avery/Bob Clampett Warner Brothers cartoons. This definitely set it apart from the usual Pixar/Disney wanna-bes.
–Though I’m not much of an Adam Sandler fan, I’m happy to say he did a great job as the main character, Count Dracula. Accent, intonations, acting and comedy (especially his trademark goofy song singing, as in the film’s early lullaby sequence) were all spot-on.
–Similarly, the interaction between Sandler and Samburg (as human visitor “Johnny”) was well performed and timed.
–As much as I prefer the use of professional cartoon voice talents rather than celebrity actors for animated films, I do think comedians are a good second choice, which is exemplified by the solid performances by Kevin James, David Spade and Andy Samburg, among others. And of course, Steve Buscemi always turns in excellent work, whether he’s a mob rat, a Boardwalk Empire boss, or a worn-out werewolf dad of a gazillion kids.
–The gags were pretty varied: plenty of poop and body-function jokes for the kiddies (and the immature-at-heart adults) but also a nice assortment of jokes and humor for the parents. (It’s rated PG so it’s definitely more aimed at kids, especially judging by the laughs from all the kids in the theater audience we heard.) But you should find plenty to laugh at, especially if you can go with your inner (or real) child.
–A nice, heartwarming story under the gags, regarding parent-child relationships, growing up, lost-love and falling in love. Some may be turned off by the bit of sap, but others will appreciate the “awwws”.
–Watch for the funny TWILIGHT bit towards the end.
–I’m certainly not the demo for the music here. At least two big auto-tune, electronic-style pop numbers were a bit annoying. Sandler’s Drac hammered out a lightning-fast rap out of nowhere, but it was short (and not sweet). Ask your kids to explain.
–A few of the humor bits may come off as a bit gross for some. I’m not a fan of bodily function gags but nothing here turned me off much.
–Missed comedic opportunity! This was begging for a parody of The Eagles hit, “Hotel California” with “Hotel Transylvania” instead. (“Such a scary place. Such a scary face.” It writes itself!)
–Some of the plot elements may be somewhat contrived or formulaic (or sappy as mentioned), but hey, it’s a kid’s cartoon. It’s supposed to be fun, goofy and have a positive underlying message with some touching moments of “human interest.” It’s not going to be “Animated Saw” or “Citizen Dracula.” Enjoy it for what it is.
So as you can tell, there’s more to like than not—and better if you go in with lowered expectations like my wife and I did. I’d rate it as “See It” if you’re a big monster/animation fan. If the cost is prohibitive (saving up for that TWILIGHT marathon coming up, right?), definitely “Rent It.”
I didn’t see it in 3D (saving that for FRANKENWEENIE next week) so I can’t comment on that. And while I haven’t seen Tim Burthon’s animated fright-fun fest, I’m already going to give it a positive review just based on the 10-minute preview and art/making of display I saw at Disney’s California Adventure Park last month. (Pics of which I shared with you here.)
When you see either or both, please feel free to comment below. Always like to hear what you folks think.
P.S.: Plenty of time to get in your commission request for a monster from my pencil or brush! Whether scary or funny, I aim to please. Just scream at Craig here!