The predictability of the story—there have been plenty of stories where overbearing parents begrudgingly learn to let their children go their own way—would be more forgivable were it developed more. Between the set-up and the long-in-coming conclusion is little more than a litany of increasingly ineffective gags (Invisible Man learns he stinks at charades... someone eats a bagel with "scream cheese"...) and an attempted moral about seeing past differences.

Smigel, the co-writer and executive producer of Hotel Transylvania, has a long history of teaming with Sandler, going back to their days working together on Saturday Night Live. Since then, Smigel has written the 2008 Sandler vehicle You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, executive produced Sandler’s recent Jack and Jill, and appeared in small roles in films headlined by Sandler.

Their shared list of credits constitutes a longtime working relationship that has generated a lot of lowbrow laughs, but few moments that have stretched Sandler as a performer. At this point in his career, the comedian appears to be coasting, his acclaimed dramatic roles in Punch-Drunk Love, Reign Over Me and Funny People having failed to find sizable audiences. He’s now working on Grown Ups 2.

Like most of Sandler’s recent forays, Hotel Transylvania isn’t funny enough to recommend as a comedy, nor is it the best choice for family viewing. Readers are advised to watch Beauty and the Beast, Tangled or any number of superior animated family films that convey a similar message about looking beyond superficial differences, overcoming fears and finding one's path to happiness. Hotel Transylvania simply isn’t in the same league. My recommendation? Never check in to begin with.

CAUTIONS:

  • Language/Profanity: "Poop;" urination and potty humor; "holy rabies!;" "butt"
  • Alcohol/Smoking/Drugs: None
  • Sex/Nudity: A skeleton husband takes offense and shouts, "Keep your hands off my wife!;" a character wonders if Mavis wears clothes when she turns into a bat; fleas are interrupted on their honeymoon; skeleton in a shower; Dracula in a towel; the Invisible Man applies baby powder to his bottom, exposing it; a couple of kisses
  • Violence/Crime: A shadow of a looming Dracula over a baby’s crib quickly turns to humor as Dracula expresses fatherly love toward his child; he reads Tales of Humans to his daughter to frighten her; zombies used primarily for gross-out gags; Dracula turns into a raging maniac whenever his protective instincts kick in, but these moments pass quickly; pitchfork through a head; zombies engulfed in flames; Dracula says human blood is too fatty, so he takes human-blood substitutes; a knight is struck between the legs; implication that a wolf has eaten several sheep
  • Marriage/Religion: A loving reference to “my little voodoo doll”; discussion of a trapped soul

Questions? Comments? Contact the writer at crosswalkchristian@hotmail.com.

Publication date: September 28, 2012