The West

Movie Review: Hotel Transylvania
Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, in a scene from Hotel Transylvania. Picture: AP Photo/Sony Pictures Animation.

From childhood, we are subliminally conditioned to be scared and suspicious of the strange and unusual. It starts in fairytales and, unfortunately, often continues in daily life with anyone who looks or sounds a little bit different.

Perhaps that is why monster-type tales have remained popular throughout the ages; why blame ourselves for society's ills when we can point the finger at aliens, zombies, blood-sucking vampires, werewolves, even foreigners?

Animated 3-D feature Hotel Transylvania takes the notion of the scary movie and turns it on its head, making the ghouls, ghosts, gremlins and things that go bump in the night the heroes and humans the bad guys.

Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) is an over-protective father to young Mavis (Selena Gomez) who is about to turn 118 and wants to flex her bat wings to explore the big, bad world beyond their hotel, which is protected from human discovery by the land of the undead and a haunted forest.

Dracula is also the proprietor of the five-star Hotel Transylvania, a home away from home for an assortment of creatures traditionally found in horror movies, like his mate Wayne the big bad wolf (Steve Buscemi), Frankenstein (Kevin James) and nagging wife Eunice (Fran Drescher)

When a backpacker called Jonathan (Andy Samberg) accidentally infiltrates the hotel, Dracula is terrified his guests will find out and flee.

But getting rid of Jonathan proves harder than first thought when he bonds with Mavis, forcing Dracula to dress him up like a member of the Frankenstein clan and pass him off as a party planner.

Emmy-award winning director Genndy Tartakovsky brings into play some of the comic sensibility and animation styling of his acclaimed TV series Dexter's Laboratory and Samurai Jack, best embracing the big screen and 3-D in the scenes involving the flying bats.

He ensures there's plenty of fun to be had in this house of horrors; Frankenstein is too cheap to fly to the hotel so sends his parts via post, leading to some reassembly problems.

Each hotel room has a talking shrunken voodoo head on the doorknob instead of a do not disturb/please clean room sign; and the heads are prone to talking back.

Witches on broomsticks do their best to keep the hotel as clean or as cobwebby as individual guests desire and there are plenty of "sight" gags involving the Invisible Man.

Tartakovsky lets his characters run wild but they all know or realise their limitations.

Sandler is a natural voicing the alternately caring and scaring Dracula, which will come as a relief to those disappointed by his awful recent big-screen ventures, Jack and Jill and That's My Boy.

He's particularly amusing when trying to explain he doesn't drink human blood and is often misquoted.

One of the funniest scenes comes when he discovers Jonathan watching a well-known vampire franchise.

At its heart, Hotel Transylvania is a simple but lively tale about learning to get along and learning to let go with plenty of laughs, a few lessons and not many scares along the way.

Hotel Transylvania is now screening.

The West Australian

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