"Hotel Transylvania" had all the makings of an inspired entry into the animation canon. It just never delivers on an intriguing concept -- and oddly enough, it's not entirely Adam Sandler's fault this time.
Determined to protect his daughter from those pitchfork-crazed humans who killed his wife, Dracula (Sandler) constructs a five-star resort where baddies like Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Invisible Man and a pack of werewolves can live freely.
They all descend on Dracula's retreat to celebrate his daughter, Mavis', (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday. When a backpacking, tourist (Andy Samberg) accidentally stumbles into the enclave, the foundation is laid for a delightful escape into the world of cinema's most iconic terrors. Instead, we're given a stale, by-the-numbers tale of an overprotective father who can't stomach releasing his child into the big, bad world.
|2 out of 4 stars|
|Stars: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James and Steve Buscemi|
|Director: Genndy Tartakovsky|
|Rated: PG for some rude humor, action and scary images|
|Running Time: 91 minutes|
The breezy effort has its fair share of amusing moments, particularly werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi) trying to corral his rambunctious litter of cubs and shrunken heads.
More to the point -- there are certainly worse ways to distract your kids for an hour and a half.
But it's also entirely forgettable, particularly when sandwiched between the likes of "ParaNorman" and "Frankenweenie," animated films with similar Halloween-focused ambitions but better delivery.
Perhaps the only prospect more terrifying than a movie headlined by Sandler is a Sandler film in which get Kevin James gets a supporting role (in this case, Frankenstein). For the dream team of uninspired, lazy dreck, "Transylvania" is actually an accomplishment in that it's watchable.
Not so surprising, there's a heavy dose of fart jokes, and even more inexplicably, Sandler channels that whiny Sandlerized voice with just a hint of vampire, creating an absurd combination of Billy Madison and Dracula.
But the shortcomings here should be pinned on a lack of imagination that even talented director, TV-animation guru Genndy Tartakovsky ("Dexter's Laboratory") proves incapable of saving. The visual splendor becomes lost among endless diatribes about parental trust and creating one's own path and a gooey string of pop-song montages.
Throw in the inflated ticket price that comes with those unwieldy 3-D glasses, and we're left with a product best reserved for card-carrying members of the juice-box crowd.