With voices by Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg. Written by Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. PG. 91 min. Opens Sept. 28.
In the long and not always distinguished list of actors who’ve taken a stab at playing Dracula on screen, Adam Sandler’s cartoon incarnation in Hotel Transylvania rates far below Bela Lugosi’s in the 1931 original but somewhere above George Hamilton’s in Love at First Bite.
As in that vampire spoof, the contents of this 3-D animated monster mash are more silly than spooky. Sandler’s Drac doesn’t even vant to suck your blood—he’s too busy running a resort for his fellow creatures of the night, pals like Frankenstein, Wayne the werewolf, and Murray the mummy (voiced by Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, and Cee-Lo Green, respectively). When not ensuring that his regulars enjoy their annual visit, the Count prepares for the birthday festivities for his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). But this overprotective undead dad’s plans are derailed by her budding romance with Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a dim-witted backpacker who breaks the hotel’s strict no-humans policy.
Parents may be wondering whether they should revise their policies with respect to exposing their kids to Sandler’s aging-frat-dude shtick. Though Hotel Transylvania is much more enjoyable than Eight Crazy Nights, the actor’s first foray into the world of kid-friendly animation, the results here are still patchy. Hampered by a sluggish storyline and a surplus of lazy gags and sophomoric humour, the film seems a tad toothless when compared to Monsters, Inc.—Pixar’s similarly-themed 2001 hit, which is slated for a 3-D rerelease in December—or the more refined likes of Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas. Dracula’s own devotees may also be miffed to see the character portrayed as a figure of fun, though if the Count can survive countless stakes through the heart, he can surely weather an encounter with Happy Gilmore.