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Hotel Transylvania (3D Blu-ray Review)

1 Feb, 2013 By: John Latchem

Sony Pictures
Box Office $147.62 million
$30.99 DVD, $40.99 Blu-ray, $55.99 3D BD combo
Rated ‘PG’ for some rude humor, action and scary images.
Voices of Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, Cee Lo Green.

I was surprised, upon completing this thoroughly entertaining animated comedy, that the critics could have been so hard on it.

Maybe it’s because they want to compare every animated movie to what Pixar does, or maybe it’s due to some irrational hatred of Adam Sandler. Whatever it is, they seem to have purposely overlooked a lot of great touches that made the film a hit with mainstream audiences — missing the spooky forest for the enchanted trees, if you will.

Hotel Transylvania works for being exactly what it is trying to be: a send-up of classic movie monsters with often hilarious sight gags and a charming love story.

The hook involves Dracula (voiced by Sandler) raising his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), in a refuge for monsters deep in the Transylvanian wilderness, far from the humans he wants her to avoid, after the death of his wife at the hands of a mob leaves him with the belief that humans want nothing more than to hunt and destroy his kind.

Once a year he invites all his monster friends to his hotel for Mavis’ birthday, but this year she wants to leave the castle, and Drac’s efforts to keep her in the nest are complicated by the arrival of Jonathan, a backpacker who stumbles upon the party and threatens to unravel the narrative that all humans are bad guys. It also doesn’t help that Jon and Mavis fall for each other at first sight.

Hotel Transylvania plays within the confines of the usual formula for CG animation, wrapping things up with a zippy musical number that looks good on a soundtrack playlist.

Some of the best jokes apply a supernatural spin to common activities, such as when the Invisible Man tries to play charades (“I stink at this”). And it all culminates in one of the best jabs at “Twilight” ever. The result is a film that can be enjoyed equally by kids and adults alike.

A lot of the credit goes to the skilled direction of TV animation icon Genndy Tartakovsky, making his feature debut with a script by Peter Baynham (Borat) and Robert Smigel (the man behind Triumph the Insult Comic Dog).

Tartakovsky was actually the sixth director attached to the project, which spent years floundering in development before he came on board. The animation is lively, and the 3D effects work very well.

The best extra on the Blu-ray is the four-minute Goodnight Mr. Foot short film, created in 2D animation by Tartakovsky as a prequel of sorts to the film, detailing Bigfoot’s attempts to sleep after a long journey.

Also of interest are the six minutes of deleted sequences, including a prologue showing Dracula meeting Mavis’ mom.

Other extras are rather rote, including brief featurettes about animation techniques, a profile of the cast, and a music video by will.i.am and up-and-comer Becky G. Rounding out the selection is a highly technical commentary with Tartakovsky and other filmmakers that mostly focuses on the animation process.

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