Folks, there is just no way I'm not going to do this: "Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania, what a lovely place, what a lovely face", for a monster, that is. Well, Mr. Don Henley, there is a nice surprise with this hotel, and it is the fact that it's featured in a pretty enjoyable film, which is good, because I was a tiny bit worried that this was just going to be another Adam Sandler vehicle. Shoot, the animators went so far as to make Dracula kind of look like Sandler, and plus, this film is filled with Sandler's usual buddies, probably because they thought that Sandler had actually gotten them into a nice hotel in Transylvania, Romania. It does seem like the typical Happy Madison crew is just coming along for the paid vacations, yet it would appear as though Sandler couldn't fool Chris Rock, seeing as how he's not in this film, which should tell you about the differences between white people and black people in horror films, as Rock wouldn't even set his voice in a hotel full of monsters. I don't know, maybe he just didn't want to have to deal with the Blackula jokes, but either way, the point is that he's missing out on this, Sandler's Halloween answer to "8 Crazy Nights", only, you know, much better, which, now that I think about it, shouldn't come as too much of a surprise, because this film is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Oh no, I don't mean that Tartakovsky makes this film better because of his long history as an acclaimed, award-winning animated film and television maker, I mean that I'd imagine Tartakovsky would make this fruit of his finally managing to slither out of the iron grip of Cartoon Network count. Well, rest assured, folks, as this film is entertaining, and yet, with that said, it's not like Tartakovsky carries this film too far away from its issues, of which there are quite a few.
The film thankfully doesn't find itself falling slave to pop culture references, like plenty of other family fluff flicks, but when the dreaded iron grip of mainstreams falls upon this film, it's typically in the form of a component to a soundtrack that may be very underused, - what with this film's being most reliant on conventional, but decent score work by Mark Mothersbaugh to supplement the musicality that helps in driving this film's liveliness - but all but stops the film cold in its turning in a few commercially relevant hunks of unbearable garbage - from "Sexy and i know it" to a lame contemporaneous musical number that closes the film out - that may depart as quickly as they arrive, but cheese things up near-embarassingly. Of course, it's not like the film is completely cleansed of too much cheesiness when there is no terrible music going on, for although the moments in which this film gets to be a bit too kiddy for its own good are relatively limited in quantity, when they arrive, genuineness in entertainment value takes further damage from a bit of corniness, much of which can be found within noisiness, something that isn't as considerable as some say, but recurring enough to throw off the engagement value of less superficial grown-ups. There's something lazy about this film's most kiddy and noisy moments, which slow down the momentum of an effort that is otherwise fairly inspired, though not so much so that it's able to do away with such more consistent lazy touches as conventionalism that is most immense than I expected. Sure, I wasn't exactly walking into this film expecting it to be one of the most original of the year, and it's not like the final product is all-out trite, yet this story rarely strays too far away from formula, thus loosening the grip on full assurance that is ultimately not quite as tight as it could have been in this film, even when you don't take conventionalism into account, because no matter how lively this film's storytelling is, it's a bit too tight, hurrying events along too quickly in the same way a more forgettable piece of family filler hurries things along. The film's fun factor goes a bit limited by a runtime of merely 92 minutes that is emphasized by both some awkward plotting and, well, maybe a bit too much thinness in this story, which is well-characterized enough in execution to earn a reasonable bit of your investment, but still nearly rich with natural shortcomings in its concept. The film is what it is, but the problem is that this film could have been and almost is more than just that, yet for every high note in this fun flick, there are shortcomings, and just enough of them for the film to fall just short of rewarding. That being said, this film is still stronger than I expect, not to where it's generally as strong as it sometimes is, but certainly to where both kids and adults will find quite a bit of fun within this family flick, as surely as animation lovers will find quite a bit to admire within this strong technical piece.
The film isn't all-out marvelous in its technical achievements as an animated feature, but you'd be hard pressed to not be impressed by this film's still acceling quite a bit with its animations, which boast plenty of energetic designs that do a slick job of playing up the kind of distinct bounce of life within CG animation, polished with some of the delightful exaggerations that are typically a part of the 2D animation sensibilities that director Genndy Tartakovsky doesn't appear to be departing too far from in this film. It's not too easy to notice the touches of 2D sensibilities within this film, but rest assured that this effort does present some kind of a marriage between contemporary animation style and good old-fashioned cartoonery that is very attractive in its being both lively and just other-worldly enough to color up humor that is mighty colorful even on paper. Sure, this film's humor isn't consistently refreshing, and is sometimes a bit too noisy for its own good, but on the whole, one of the best surprises about this film is the strength of Peter Baynham's and Robert Smigel's humor, whose hits' effectiveness ranges from quite chuckle-worthy to, well, downright hilarious, with plenty of sharpness in color and timing, if not an unexpectedly hefty degree of wit. The film's misses in humor don't do too much more than just graze the funny bone, while the hits - of which there are many - often hit very hard, though they're not exactly the only high notes in Baynham's and Smigel's writing, for although this film is a bit too thin to be truly rewarding on the whole, what does a lot to drive the aspects that almost drive the final product into bonafide goodness is characterization's still being very colorful in its crafting plenty of memorable characters, bonded by well-fleshed-out chemistry, and further sold by the inspired voice talents behind them. Outside of this film, Adam Sandler's usual crew members all too often squander their comedic potential through fall-flat material that is so consistent that, after a while, you don't really see said comedic potential, something that you can definately, well, "hear" being fulfilled in this film, because whether they be by such usual Sandler film regulars as the charming Andy Samberg and relatively well-balanced Kevin James, or by such non-Sandler posse members as the talented Steve Buscemi and smooth Cee Lo Green, this film's voice performances win you over to a star-studded cast, from which Adam Sandler stands out as almost immersively convincing and charismatic as the over-protective, but still very spirited father. Sandler is delightfully relatively restrained as he leads a colorful cast, whose vocal touches add quite a bit to the film, though not quite as much as the directorial touches by Genndy Tartakovsky that aren't strong enough to make the film generally rewarding, but still give this film quite a few high points, - a few of which are surprisingly even touching - which break up consistent entertainment value that, alone, almost proves to be enough to save this film from its natural shortcomings. The film stands to hit a little bit harder, but what is done right in this reasonably inspired effort gets the final product by as quite decent, with enough proficiency to its technicality, wit to its script, liveliness to it voice acting and strength to its direction to entertain thoroughly.
Checking out ("You can check out any time you'd like, but you can never le-Oh wait, that's a different hotel), you'd find it difficult to completely deny that this film gets to be a touch too cheesy, though not as often as it gets to be too conventional, hitting plenty of storytelling tropes that supplement plotting awkwardness that is itself supplemental to the story thinness that keeps this film from truly rewarding, even though it can't overshadow what is done very well in this unexpectedly quite enjoyable family flick, which delivers on excellent animation, as well as much effective, if not hilarious humor, complimented by inspiration within both the voice acting and direction that almost carry "Hotel Transylvania" into bonafide goodness, yet still keep things going enough for plenty of fun to arise.
2.75/5 - Decent