Friday, October 31, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

‘Hotel Transylvania': Monster Mash

During the early stages of what should be a rollicking party for Dracula’s daughter, the guests — clockwise from top left, the Mummy, the Invisible Man (note the glasses), Frankenstein and his bridge, Drac and Mr. and Mrs. Werewolf — register surprise at the arrival of an unexpected guest. Courtesy photo

By
From page A11 | September 28, 2012 |

“Hotel Transylvania”

Four stars

Starring (voices only): Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, David Spade, CeeLo Green, Jon Lovitz

Rating: PG, for mild rude humor and some scary images

Funniest sight-gag I’ve seen in years: The Invisible Man attempting to convey a clue during a spirited round of charades.

“Hotel Transylvania” is generously laden with similar knee-slappers, many piling one atop the next in the rat-a-tat-tat manner of a classic Road Runner cartoon. But this is no seven-minute short; director Genndy Tartakovsky and editor Catherine Apple successfully maintain an exhilarating pace without sacrificing the character elements necessary to hold our interest.

It’s an impressive feat, no less so when considering the involvement of five credited writers: Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel, Todd Durham, Dan Hageman and Kevin Hageman. That many cooks generally spoil the magic potion, but in this case, everybody’s sensibilities mesh nicely. The result is a light-hearted spoof of familiar movie monster traditions, blended with wry takes on young love and an unusually extreme generation gap.

Long, long ago, in a haunted forest far, far away, Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) constructed a lavish “five-stake resort” that he dubbed Hotel Transylvania: a posh refuge for monsters and their families to vacation, far from curious — and potentially dangerous — eyes. As has become typical of our 21st century re-evaluations of fantasy creatures, these poor monsters are the world’s maligned and misunderstood, hunted and killed by the humans who fear and hate them.

Bearing that last thought in mind, Dracula’s massive sanctuary also has been designed as a place where his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), can grow up safely. Dracula has particular reason for this parental concern; a century and change ago, his beloved wife — Mavis’ mother — was killed by just such a human mob.

But Mavis is celebrating her 118th birthday, and — just like the tower-bound Rapunzel, in 2010’s “Tangled” — she yearns to explore and experience the outside world. Until now, Dracula has managed to delay her desire, in part through the distraction of ever more elaborate birthday parties.

This one is destined to be no exception, with a guest list that includes Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his brassy wife, Eunice (Fran Drescher); Wayne (Steve Buscemi) and Wanda (Molly Shannon), a couple of loving werewolves who have produced litter after litter of pups; Griffin, the Invisible Man (David Spade); Murray (CeeLo Green), a boisterous, jive-talking mummy; and Quasimodo (Jon Lovitz), the hotel’s temperamental head chef, never seen without his loyal rat assistant, Esmeralda.

But those are only the front-and-center characters; the guest list also includes riffs on every creature known from myth and cinema, from the gelatinous Blob and the Creature from the Black Lagoon, to the multi-headed Cerberus, the Abominable Snowman, an underwater octopoid beast so huge that we never see more than a tentacle or two, and the assorted witch maids, headless drivers, mariachi skeletons, limb-challenged zombies and haunted suits of armor that serve as the hotel staff.

Not that it makes a difference, despite Mavis’ fondness for all these weird uncles and aunts. Holding her father to a promise he made years ago, she demands that he allow her to spread her (bat) wings.

As it happens, though, her desire for travel gets put on hold with the unexpected arrival of one last guest: an energetic, way-cool motormouth dude named Jonathan (Andy Samberg), who can shred a guitar or a skateboard with equal élan. Jonathan has been backpacking his way across Europe, and with the insatiable curiosity of any 21-year-old, he naturally follows up on an oft-heard rumor about a mysteriously spooky castle hidden deep within the Transylvanian woods.

But Jonathan’s presence is a catastrophe for Dracula, who has long guaranteed his premises to be human-free. Concealing Jonathan’s healthy pink complexion isn’t difficult; a bit of make-up and an electrified hairstyle later, the kid is introduced to everybody as Johnnystein, Frankenstein’s supposed cousin (actually, the cousin of the fellow who, ah, supplied one of Frankie’s arms).

But Dracula has a much tougher time dealing with the luminescent goo-goo eyes that suddenly flash between Jonathan and Mavis: love at first sight.

What’s an undead dad to do?

Sandler makes a wonderfully pompous vampire, clearly regarded as the big cheese by all his supernatural friends and guests, but helpless in the face of his daughter’s stricken, disappointed expressions. Sandler gives his black-caped character a wide range of moods and emotions, from unexpected gentleness — always played against a given scene’s apparently ominous mood — to breath-catching flashes of blood-curdling fury. Based on the actor’s track record with recent dim-bulb comedies, I think he’s much better as unseen voice talent.

Samberg’s Jonathan is a stitch. It’s funny enough when this hyper-enthusiastic sorta-slacker first assumes that he has stumbled into some sort of fan gathering, with folks sporting really rad costumes; it’s positively side-splitting when the poor guy realizes that he’s surrounded by (gulp) actual, rotted-flesh-and-putrefied-blood creatures of the night.

Until he (literally) bumps into Mavis, of course. No warm-blooded guy could resist a girl this cute … even if she does have fangs.

Gomez successfully navigates Mavis’ many moods, ensuring that her typically teenage character is headstrong but not demanding, mildly self-centered but never unpleasantly selfish. Mavis isn’t merely the apple of her father’s eye — a weakness she cheerfully exploits to her advantage — she’s also adored by all who visit the castle. And, really, we can’t argue with her desire to escape the constricting confines of her father’s enveloping cloak … no matter how noble his intentions.

Buscemi is a hoot as a beaten-down father never able to hide from his bratty brood, and James gives Frankenstein an intriguing reading as a sort of blue-collar working stiff. Lovitz initially makes Quasimodo an overly solicitous toady, but this character turns menacing in the final act.

Mark Mothersbaugh contributes a vigorous orchestral score, punctuated at key moments by energetic pop anthems such as a reworked cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” — here retitled “Call Me Mavy” — and a climactic rap duel involving Dracula, Jonathan and Mavis, called “Problem (The Monster Remix).” Cute stuff.

You’re well advised to spring for the film’s 3D format, which lends additional depth and dimension to bat flights and pell-mell pursuits through the castle’s darkened passages. The 3D “money sequence,” however, is a ballroom duel of sorts between Dracula and Jonathan, with floating tables as game pieces. This has nothing to do with the story, and could be viewed as a time-filling distraction … were it not so giddily exhilarating.

I hope “Hotel Transylvania” hangs around for at least a month, because it’ll be perfect family viewing for the night before Halloween.

— Read more of Derrick Bang’s film criticism at derrickbang.blogspot.com. Comment on this review at www.davisenterprise.com

Comments

comments

.

News

Grant means new push for moving tracks out of town

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Some say council needs to reconsider MRAP

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

UC to create $250 million venture capital fund

By San Francisco Chronicle | From Page: A1

 
School district may redevelop downtown site

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A1

DUI suspected in crash

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
Master Gardeners share their wisdom at free workshops

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A2

 
Scots vote to stay in UK

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

France strikes Islamic State group’s depot in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Man faces arson charge in huge California wildfire

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Telling tales, on ‘Davisville’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Volunteers sought to make veggie bags

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Storyteller will draw on music, dance

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Woodland Healthcare offering flu shots

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Putah Creek Bike Path to close temporarily

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Little Free Libraries open at Montgomery

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A3

 
Project Linus seeks donations

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Rabid bat found at Holmes Junior High

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Students invited to apply for Blue & White grants

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

Halloween costume sale benefits preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A3

 
Register to vote by Oct. 20

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Free workout class set at library

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
Explorit: Lots of ways to be a volunteer

By Lisa Justice | From Page: A4 | Gallery

 
Sierra Club remembers longtime walker

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

DHS Classes of 1954 and 1955 will hold 60th reunion

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Nonprofits can get DCN’s help

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis maps available at Chamber office

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Need a new best friend?

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

Reception benefits endangered gorillas

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A5

 
Downtown history tour planned in October

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

Sutter Farmers Market offers local goods

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A8 | Gallery

 
Wolk applauds approval of stronger rules for olive oil

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

Davis hosts its own climate change rally

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A8

 
Qigong classes available for heart health

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A9

.

Forum

Sick of being the bad guy

By Creators Syndicate | From Page: B5

 
Educate homeless with dogs

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

Cheers and Jeers: Not the end of the rainbow

By Our View | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

Return to previous plan

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Save the ‘pine cone place’

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Affirm our community values

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Project has safety risks

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Learn more about Paso Fino

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
.

Sports

Blue Devil volleyballers hold off Herd

By Spencer Ault | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Aggies’ new energy could be scary for Big West

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1

No rest for the weary: Aggie TE Martindale busy on and off the field

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Devils hope the light bulb turns on at Edison

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

River Cats and Giants sign two-year deal

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Mustangs are no match for DHS boys in water polo

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B2

Take Zona and Bama this week

By Bob Dunning | From Page: B2

 
A’s slide continues as Rangers sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

.

Features

Name Droppers: Awards keep coming for UC Davis retiree

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
.

Business

Redesigned 2015 Escalade remains breed all its own

By Ann M. Job | From Page: B3 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Carol L. Walsh

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Comics: Friday, September 19, 2014

By Creator | From Page: A10

 
.

Real Estate Review

Featured Listing

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER1

Professional Services Directory

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER2

Taylor Morrison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER3

Malek Baroody

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER4

Norcal Land

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER5

Robin Garland

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER6

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Dana Hawkins

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER7

Martha Bernauer

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Joe Kaplan

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Lynne Wegner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER8

Remax

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER9

Melrina A Maggiora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER10

Wells Fargo Home Mortgage

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Julie Leonard

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER11

Coldwell Banker

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER12

Kim Eichorn

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER14

Lyon Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER15

Jamie Madison & Associates

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Marcelo Campos

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Julie Partain

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER16

Bob Bockwinkel

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Juan Ramirez

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Kim Merrel Lamb

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER17

Chris Snow

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

James Hanna

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER18

Raul Zamora

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Susan von Geldern

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER19

Travis Credit Union

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER20

Karen Waggoner

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Jamie Madison

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER21

Tracy Harris

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

Lisa Haass

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER22

First Street Real Estate

By Zack Snow | From Page: RER24