Hotel Transylvania is atrociously unfunny, writes Raja Sen.
Whatever have we done to you, Count? We used to be awed by tales of you, on the page and on the screen, stupefied by the legends and the myths and the films.
Now, we've turned your kind into carriers of tween romance and trashy television, pale and whiny bloodsuckers with less personality than mosquitos.
And now we have Adam Sandler playing you.
I we have no excuses, Dracula. We have let you down, and Bram Stoker would have spanked us silly.
Though it must be said that watching this atrociously unfunny Hotel Transylvania film does in same way feel like penance.
It's a great title, yes, and a concept brimming with potential: Dracula overseeing a hotel stuffed with legendary ghouls of every description, from Hydras to Gremlins to Frankenstein and his iconically coiffed Bride. There's so much it could be. The League Of Extraordinary Ghosties. Literary sendups. Cinematic tributes. A narrative cobbled from the monster movies of yore. Why, maybe Dracula sucked some Basil Fawlty blood back in the day and now occasionally obsesses about not mentioning the war.
But no, what we have is Adam Sandler, a name that can stop a guffaw and make it retreat down the throat till it were a particularly shrill hiccup. There are fine voices surrounding him here, sure -- Steve Buscemi and Jon Lovitz up the game considerably -- but Sandler is a producer on the film, and that points to dismal times indeed.
The film's immensely childish plotline consists of Count Dracula fearing that his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) will leave his hotel, his monster safe-haven, and go out into the real world and be harmed by pitchfork-happy humans. Except, one day before her birthday, a ginger idiot from the land of the living (Andy Samberg) shows up and -- cue romantic track -- chaos ensues.
And yes, it does.
Things fall over. Zombies dance. There is mild decapitation. And cheese that screams. But the film never once surprises or tickles, chugging along formulaic lines so relentlessly that everything seems forced. But forget us, adults pampered by Pixar movies and European cartoons: Will Hotel Transylvania amuse children? Not if they're old enough to read, no.
The monsters are never used to full potential, and don't even provide truly memorable sight gags. There are a couple of decent one-liners, but it's easy to lose sight of them as the film hammers out line after line without pausing for breath. It's like a particularly dreary Saturday Night Live episode, you know, one without Seth Meyers or Stefon. Samberg freestyle raps a bit, naturally, but that only goes to show the film's laziness in creating his character: initially painting him as an exaggeratedly stupid American tourist too moronic to know he should be scared, he conversely also seems to be too good at whatever he does. Whatever he does. He's a stud in idiot's clothing.
Speaking of idiots, Sandler pours an infuriating accent on so thick, and with such little Lugosi authority, that it sounds more Jewish than Transylvanian. And no matter how many times Nosferajew bares his fangs, he can't save this film from its ironic, tragic toothlessness.