The second my girls saw the very first ad for Hotel Transylvania, they were begging to see it. At 5 and 7, I wasn’t quite sure if I should get their hopes up or not–after all, stories about monsters not of the Sesame Street variety generally don’t suit their age group.
Remarkably, even my 5-year-old wasn’t scared a bit. Okay, so there were a
couple of tense moments in which she gripped my hand a little tighter,
and it’s possible that she’s a tougher little girl than most. But when I
asked them at the end if it was what they
expected, they both agreed, “Different! It was funnier!”
And yes, it’s pretty funny.
Here, the loving, if overprotective, father and control freak Dracula, voiced by
Adam Sandler (doing a remarkably non-Sandleresque character, save for
one requisite schtick on a guitar at the beginning), has kindly opened a hotel
for every monster imaginable, to keep them safe from those scary humans
out there. He’s the host with the mostest. But mostly he’s done it all to keep his motherless “teen” daughter
Mavis (Selena Gomez) protected from the world. Yes, yet another girl with a
dead mother, like every Disney movie ever.
is turning 118–the monster version of 18–and he’s throwing Mavis a
bash. Only the guests are all his friends, and Mavis is starting to
yearn for a little companionship her age, and the chance to see the
world. Enter the forbidden human guest, Johnny (Andy Samberg), an intrepid,
presumptuous, Valley-dude of a globetrotting backpacker who stumbles
accidentally into their realm.
You can take it from there.
While for the most part the humor, the puns, and the sight gags work on both adult and little kid levels, there is a lot I had to explain to my girls, considering they’re not up on every monster movie every made going back to Nosferatu.
There’s a whole lot about villagers with pitchforks and torches and
other vampire pitfalls, and the cast ranges from the main guys
(Frankenstein, The Werewolf, The Mummy), to more arcane characters like
hydra, “The Fly,” zombie versions of classical composers, and yappy
shrunken heads (try explaining that!) employed as talking “do not disturb” signs.
There are predictable moments like “hey, look at
the funny monsters performing rap” scenes, although they work well
considering the Mummy is voiced by CeeLo Green. And of course, you can
guess the story arc from about the first scene. But really, none of that matters.
If your kids aren’t easily scared, they’ll be won over by the
kind-hearted monsters, a really strong Dracula character, and the relatable Mavis and her very sweet, very G-rated
romance. Plus the animation really is remarkable.
With a script by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel–as in, The Ambigulously Gay Duo
and Triumph the Insult Comic Dog–and a cast that reads like an SNL
retrospective (from Jon Lovitz, to Molly Shannon and David Spade, to Andy
Samberg and Chris Parnell) it’s hard not to laugh. A lot. The main
question is whether your kids are ready.
Seven and up?
Absolutely. But because there are a couple of surprise little scary moments, I’d
say most 4-6 year olds can handle it with you nearby. Although
I don’t know one who won’t be laughing at Quasimodo with his finger
stuck up his giant nose. Or the rambunctions clan of werewolf kids. Or The Fly accidentally vomiting while teaching
swim aerobics; even if they don’t completely understand why. -Liz
Hotel Transylvania from Sony Pictures opens this weekends at theaters everywhere, and it’s already cleaning up.