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Leave 'Transylvania' to the kids

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Photo - This image released by Sony Pictures shows Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, in a scene from "Hotel Transylvania." (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Animation)
This image released by Sony Pictures shows Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, in a scene from "Hotel Transylvania." (AP Photo/Sony Pictures Animation)
Entertainment,Movies,Brian Hughes

"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.

On screen
'Hotel Transylvania'
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.

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Author:

Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner