Genndy Tartakovsky’s name might not be immediately familiar, but for anyone who has tuned into the Cartoon Network in the last decade or so, the guy’s a vital presence, producing such staples such as Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack. His debut foray into feature-length animation, Hotel Transylvania is a mildly diverting piece of Tim Burton-esque Gothic comedy, though it clearly suffers from being passed through too many hands. More
Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel’s screenplay (from a story by three other writers!) is actually an uncredited rewrite by Tartakovsky, so what we’re left with is the work of a director with just enough imagination to energise an awfully routine story that appears to have been gestating for ages while films like Monsters Inc., Despicable Me and Brave got made and covered similar territory.
It definitely doesn’t lack for a variety of motley character designs, with Tartakovsky going whole hog on his liberally-exaggerated versions of classic Universal monsters, featuring everything from cuddly werewolf pups to zombie bellhops. The father-daughter spat between Adam Sandler’s smothering, old-fashioned Dracula and his just-turned-118 daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) can’t feel anything but a little musty, but every once in the while, the film surprises with its touching whimsy.
Dracula’s bond with goofy, chilled-out backpacker Jonathan (Andy Samberg), played out over levitating ghost tables, is a neat little set-piece, while in a late sequence where Dracula gets a helping hand from his human counterparts, Tartakovsky shows a genuine fondness for these icons. Such moments make Hotel Transylvania a passable ride, hoary clichés, flat jokes and all. Hide