Director: Genndy Tartakovsky.
Cast: (voices of) Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Cee Lo Green.
DRACULA, Frankenstein, Wolfman, The Mummy, and The Invisible Man - as long as Hollywood keeps making movies, these characters will continue to be in them.
In Hotel Transylvania, these iconic monsters are played for laughs and a kid-friendly story.
Unfortunately for such historic cinematic creations, this film is light on laughs and short on story, making for a frustrating outing that could have been much more entertaining.
The titular hotel is a haven from the humans - a place where monsters can go to get away from a world they fear (and that fears them) and spend some time relaxing by the pool.
This monstrous Hilton was built by Count Dracula (Sandler) a century ago, partly as a place for his friends to escape the horrors of humanity but mostly as a place to keep his daughter Mavis (Gomez) safe.
All that is put in jeopardy when a loud-mouthed backpacker named Jonathan (Samberg) stumbles across the hotel, just in time for Mavis' coming-of-age birthday party (she's turning 118 and is keen to finally see the outside world).
The potential here is enormous and the set-up is great. We've got zombies for concierges, shrunken heads instead of 'do not disturb' signs, and witches as chambermaids. The lobby is packed with every creature you can think of (and a few specially invented for the film) and Hotel Transylvania dabbles with themes of prejudice, over-protective parenting, unlikely love, and how annoying tourists can be.
But the story holding together this rogues' gallery of ghouls is frustratingly flimsy.
For starters, the plot's kick-off - the arrival of Jonathan at the hotel - is handled ineptly, especially when you consider that an all-powerful vampire can't think of a way to dispatch the annoying backpacker. The film has to work too hard to keep Jonathan in the hotel disguised as a monster from the start, leading to too many contrived situations we've seen a million times before (He's a party-planner! He's a long-lost cousin!).
It's a shame because the premise of monsters hiding from humans is a good one, but it's stretched to breaking point and can't maintain the running time. It feels like children's TV show idea stretched to feature-length, and the cracks show.
Hotel Transylvania goes for wacky and exuberant, and occasionally it is, but mostly it comes off as silly and irritating. It goes for cheap laughs, which will make the younger kids giggle, but even these are few and far between.
Admittedly some of the gags work and the new spins on instantly recognisable characters is interesting. Single dad Dracula has a nice backstory and his relationship with his daughter is intriguing, Wolfman (Buscemi) is a put-upon parent with too many kids, and The Mummy (Green) is cuckolded by his annoying wife (Fran Drescher). The voice-work is generally excellent, the stylised look is fresh and the set-up has great franchise potential.
But too much is piled in, backpacker Jonathan is too annoying and unfunny so you don't want him to fall in love with Mavis (which is a major plot point), and ultimately the whole thing feels like a wasted opportunity.
It's certainly not a complete failure for the young ones who think the idea of a farting Frankenstein is funny, but more discerning audiences will find this vampiric comedy a bit fangless.