Thursday, June 25, 2015
Mini-Review - "Hotel Transylvania" (2012)
This movie has taught me one important lesson - Adam Sandler can be funny in a movie, when he has zero creative control over the film.
Sandler has not been funny in cinema since "Happy Gilmore," as each subsequent film from him and his production company, Happy Madison, seems to get worse by being more pandering than the last.
To put it simply, Happy Madison and Adam Sandler have turned into the Michael Bay of movie comedy, by appealing to the lowest common denominator and having an onslaught of insulting race or gender humor, or just sticking with fart and poop jokes.
But then I remember how talented and hilarious Sandler was on Saturday Night Live and in films like "Punch Drunk Love," where his only job was to entertain the audience, and had no input behind the camera. The same can be said for "Hotel Transylvania," a film that should have failed on paper.
Here is the cast of voices for this animated Halloween flick: Adam Sandler as Dracula, Kevin James as Frankenstein, David Spade as the Invisible Man, CeeLo Green as the Mummy, Selena Gomez as Dracula's daughter and Steve Buschemi as the Wolf Man. What could turn this around? How about the director, Genndy Tartakovsky, the man behind "Dexter's Laboratory," "Samurai Jack," many episodes of "The Powerpuff Girls," and co-creator of the "Star Wars: Clone Wars" mini-series.
Tartakovsky has always taken advantage of the animated genre, in particular the speed and movement, especially how unnatural it can be. Which fits perfectly for a hotel full of monsters, ghouls and abominations. "Hotel Transylvania" works because of the insanely fast pace of the comedy that never seems to stop. Every second the film is throwing new visual jokes at you, like bumping into a range of monsters in the hotel lobby as it sets off a chain of events that send magic spells and parts of Frankenstein everywhere.
The voice acting, though sporadic due to CeeLo Green and Selena Gomez, hits the nail on the head, with Sandler surprisingly being the standout performance. Not once did it feel like it was Adam Sandler doing a funny voice, but Count Dracula being an overprotective father that truly cared for all monsters. Sandler disappears in this role, which is a first for him.
"Hotel Transylvania" was a fun ride, with a great visual sense of humor and a creative animated premise. Though there are some scenes that feel out-of-place, especially near the end and the odd musical choices throughout, there is a genuine love for monsters and their legacies. The film takes full advantage of its setting and characters and takes ever opportunity to throw something new at us.
Final Grade: B+