September 29, 2012

MOVIE REVIEW: "HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA"



I know. You’re singing “Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania” in your best Eagles’ voice. Unfortunately, the filmmakers did not riff off this 4-syllable-similarity in the movie. However, everything else about this movie is fun, fun, fun. If you’ve seen the trailer, you made a mental note to see HT, didn’t you? Well, you won’t be disappointed. A grand ghoulish and ghostly time for the whole family. (It’s not the least bit scary, only hilarious. Think TV’s “Munsters” or “Addams Family.”)

So much time, energy and creativity is poured into animated films these days that they really do outshine so many other genres, especially if they keep in mind the adults watching and address both adults and kids at the same time.

If you liked “Despicable Me,” you’ll love HT. It features a strong non-buffoon/non-wimp-father-figure (Dracula) and his teenage vampire daughter, Mavis. Dracula has built the “Hotel Transylvania” as a “refuge” and “sanctuary” for all his fellow monsters (EVERY single kind of monster is included in the film). What are they escaping from? Torch-bearing, garlic-wearing, wooden-stake-wielding HUMANS! But a happy-go-lucky backpacking teenage human, Jonathan (Mavis’ age, of course), finds his way into the castle-hotel. Dracula wants to kick him out, but sees that Mavis is a bit sweet on him. Rather than ruin her 118th (sic) birthday party, he disguises Jonathan as a party-planning teen Frankenstein, and plans to expel him after the party. Things go awry and Daddy Drac has to confront his control-freak ways, fears, and reconsider what is truly best for Mavis.

HT carefully avoids too many monster puns, while milking the tropes for all they’re worth. Lots of truly guffaw-worthy stuff and plenty of icky gross-out humor for the kids.

What’s different/good about this story? Dad really loves his daughter and wants to protect her. (Mom is deceased.) Jonathan also really loves Mavis and wants to do what’s good for her also. However, both Dad and Jonathan choose the road of deception as the way to go. But Mavis is not stupid, and can’t be cooped up forever. I love that Mavis is not a brat, but she pushes back. I love that Mavis is 18 (not 14 or 15) and really is ready to take responsibility for her life. Too many films, animated and otherwise, routinely make kids, pre-teens and young teens wise beyond their years, omniscient snarksters that have to endure their bumbling, often morally deficient, immature, and apologetic parents. Drac eventually apologizes (as parents should when they’re in the wrong), but not for his conscientious care and protection of Mavis.

I love that there’s a sense that young love can become true love (for both Drac and his deceased wife, as well as for Mavis and Jonathan), and that the goal of true love is to commit to each other, wed, build young lives together, help each other grow, etc., rather than “have fun” for twenty years and first think of settling down when you’re forty. There is a slight overtone of “the one” (there’s only ONE person out there just for you—which I strongly disagree with), but I think the point is that when you feel a “zing” for someone (and they feel it for you)—NOT to be confused with normal but random, non-personal, sexual attraction—you should pay attention to that. As one of my favorite, “model,” happily-married, “still having fun,” older-couple-friends say: “There’s GOT to be chemistry.”

This is Dracula’s story, and it’s beautiful to see the lengths to which he will go for his daughter’s happiness (without her even knowing). He bolsters himself saying simply: “I’ve GOT to do this.”

OTHER STUFF:

--THEOLOGY OF THE BODY? Uh-huh.

--I didn’t want to tell you right away—in case you didn’t know—that ADAM SANDLER does the voice of Drac. I didn’t know till after seeing the movie, and I’m so glad because I really, really, really can’t tolerate Sandler, but he is FANTASTIC as Drac. Must go back to his opera-singer-with-cape-singing-the-news-on-SNL-days.

--LOVE the future-son-in-law, future-father-in-law conversations and bonding sessions….

--Dracula has very good reasons for distrusting humans.

--“I come to drink your blood! Bleh, bleh bleh!”

--“Holy rabies!”

--“I speak frozen.”

--“Why is he picking his nose?”

--The sarcastic shrunken head!

--Drac’s rap song at the end….

--Jonathan captures well his generation’s wonder, positivity, “it’s all good,” “roll with it,” adventuresome, joie de vivre, thumbs-up spirit.

--HT was directed by a guy named Tartakovsky. Ha ha ha. Bleh, bleh, bleh.


6 comments:

  1. I so want to see this! Looking forward to it. Moreso now that I read your review. :)

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  2. Thanks for the review! I HAD made a mental note to see HT... but now I'm definitely going to peel myself away from Rahner long enough for a movie break - and maybe even some popcorn!

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  3. Just in time for Halloween! Enjoy!

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