By Evan Bevins
The Marietta Times
Ever been told a potentially intimidating wild animal is probably "more scared of you than you are of it?"
That's one way to describe the menagerie of monsters who take refuge at "Hotel Transylvania," Sony Pictures' computer-animated comedy that's currently ruling the box office.
Billed as a resort for creatures who need some time away from humans who tend to light torches and wield pitchforks first and ask questions later, the real goal of the forest resort is to protect Count Dracula's (Adam Sandler, "Jack and Jill") daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez, "Wizards of Waverly Place") from the outside world. Those plans start to fall apart on the eve of Mavis' 118th birthday when a human, Jonathan (Andy Samberg, "That's My Boy"), wanders into the lobby.
Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, CeeLo Green.
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky.
Rated: PG for some rude humor, action and scary images.
Loathe to prove monster stereotypes right by offing the lad, Drac instead looks for ways to hide his true identity, lest the hotel's sanctuary status be compromised. Complicating things, naturally, is Mavis' growing attraction to the newcomer.
Sandler is joined by a familiar cast of cohorts from his live-action comedies, including Steve Buscemi ("Boardwalk Empire") as Wayne the werewolf, Kevin James ("Zookeeper") as Frankenstein and David Spade ("Rules of Engagement") as an invisible man. Even Robert Smigel, of "Saturday Night Live's" "Saturday TV Funhouse" fame, co-wrote the script.
Most of the voices are well chosen, particularly CeeLo Green ("The Voice") as a musically inclined mummy named Murray. Sandler's voice sounds less like Dracula and more like Adam Sandler Pretending to be Dracula, but that actually works as part of the appeal.
Dracula is a little more mature than the goofy man-child types Sandler is known for, and he comes across as a caring father who will go to great and even ridiculous lengths to protect his daughter. He, Jonathan and Mavis are all likable, with the budding bromance between Drac and Jonathan almost overshadowing the budding romance between the younger characters.
The movie is deservedly rated PG, with some of the monstrous imagery (burning zombies, how Wayne removes some traffic-blocking sheep) and cruder jokes a bit too much for younger kids.
The humor is certainly not limited to the grotesque or bathroom arena, but there's not enough to raise "Hotel Transylvania" to the all-ages level of appeal some other animated movies attain. There are some funny moments and clever elements to be sure, and it's not a movie parents will suffer through. But it's also not one they'll feel compelled to watch without the kids.