In the film, Sandler voices Dracula, who’s hung up his bloodsucking cape to operate an exclusive, no-humans-allowed resort for the world’s weary monsters. He’s also an overprotective father to his teenaged (in vampire years, anyway) daughter, Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez), who desperately wants to go out and see the world. As Mavis’s 118th birthday approaches, Dracula opens the resort’s doors to all his old pals – including the mummy (voiced by CeeLo Green), Frankenstein (voiced by Kevin James), the invisible man (voiced by David Spade) and the big, bad wolf (voiced by Steve Buscemi), who’s become a beleaguered father to about nine thousand out-of-control wolf pups – for a blowout celebration.
But into the festive environment stumbles Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg), a backpack-sporting, über-chill happy wanderer, who simply thinks he’s found a sweet place to crash for the night. Before you can say “abracadabra!”, Dracula is in a wild panic (human on the premises! human on the premises!), Mavis is curious about Jonathan’s worldly travels and Jonathan is smitten by Dracula’s comely daughter.
Fast-paced and filled with clever humor, Hotel Transylvania delivers a very simple and straightforward story with enough laughs to keep the proceedings engaging. All of the “scary” monsters are totally lovable and cuddly and endearing (so your wee ones won’t be frightened at all) – Frankenstein has self-esteem issues, the wolf is perpetually exhausted by his brood and Dracula is a doting single dad still mourning the loss of his beloved wife more than a century ago. Further to that, I was also surprised that the movie possesses a very subtle but no less effective emotional undertone around the death of Mavis’s mother and the repercussions of her passing, as well as nice messages about accepting those who are “different.”
Hotel Transylvania is presented in 3D, but – like so many other 3D films – would work just fine in two regular dimensions. The 3D glasses actually wind up muting much of the movie’s color, which is too bad. Though there’s also a needless dance sequence/musical number towards the end (clearly designed in a “look what we can do!” way by the animators), the movie is nonetheless perfect for a pre-Halloween afternoon at the theater for the whole family.