Day Eight: Hotel Transylvania (March of the Movies 2023)

So far this month, I’ve seen a fair number of films that have challenged me, enraptured me with intellectually stimulating obscurity, and glistened with great acting performances. What better way to ruin that than by watching Hotel Transylvania?

People who like this film, I apologize. It’s not really that bad. That bad…

Copy-Paste Synopsis

“Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up and no humans are allowed. One special weekend, Dracula has invited all his best friends to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis’s 118th birthday. For Dracula catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem but the party really starts when one ordinary guy stumbles into the hotel and changes everything!”


Actual Review

Those who have been reading my thoughts on… anything, really, will probably be unsurprised as I state that I’m not a fan of Adam Sandler comedies. Even the old ones, yes. They’re not really that funny to me. At worst, though—such as the comedies he’s starred in in the last 15 years—they’re inconceivably unfunny. When I see the name “Adam Sandler” attached to a project, particularly one within the “comedy” category, I wince.

Hotel Transylvania is kind of an outlier in that sense. Yes, it’s a comedy, but it’s animated. He’s just one of many, many voices, and the expressiveness of the animation is more keen on taking center stage. Sure, Sandler also has his cast of friends with him, too, but hey, it’s directed by Genndy Tartakovsky! Y’know, Dexter’s Laboratory and Samurai Jack? That’s kind of appealing. With several sequels now, it seems to have taken a life of its own. I’ll watch the first one, sure. Why not?

This monster is voiced by Fran Drescher. Joke writes itself.

There are a lot of the general “kid-friendly” decisions in the execution of this film’s plot. Numerous dance/singing numbers, a lot of wacky animated freneticism, and potty humor (which thankfully left pretty early on). Within the actual writing, the standard formulas of poor communication and “lying to protect” drive everything forward, kind of like with a majority of animated films. There are no surprises here. If you’re a functioning adult, you know how this will end mere minutes in.

I knew this, however. From the various opinions swirling the internet, read within a string of nearly a decade, I knew this would not be some revolutionary work of art. If nothing else, I wished for a good “head empty” film that wouldn’t make me groan. The result? Eh.

As stated previously, it’s very formulaic, incorporates a lot of “kid-friendly” decisions (that is a negative, for the record, as I disagree with the “jingle keys in front of baby” approach taken here), and sort of lingers into a calm about halfway through. Such atmosphere is more tolerable for me, but then it also loses some of the “head empty” appeal. Is it so much to ask for a brainless animated film to pick whether to be wholesome or dumb? This tries hard to be both and sort of fails on both accounts.

In 100 years, she never thought to watch a sunrise.

Fortunately, from an animation standpoint, it’s all right. Not terribly fond of some of the designs of these characters (Johnny’s eyes unnerve me), yet the movement was often engaging enough for my tastes. Again, very fast-paced and almost chaotically wild, matching the tone of the supernatural and their incredible power. Some of the visual humor invites some smirks, including zombies pulling down some fake building fronts and having it fall on them repeatedly.

Speaking of Sandler’s friends, it doesn’t help matters when there are almost zero characters in this that are worth empathizing with. Dracula, sure, he’s overprotective given the events of his past. That’s horribly cliché, but something. His daughter, Mavis, is growing older and wants to see the world. Cool. That’s something. Everyone else? Character fodder. There just to be there. No substance, simply used for a joke or two down the line. Not even Johnny, the human love interest, has anything to him.

haha millennials always on there phones

Essentially, this is a film that sort of comes off as an outline from a writing standpoint, filled in with decent animation and style. At best, it’s a manageable story of family bonding that also happens to include too many autotune-assisted musical sequences. At worst, it’s annoying and juvenile. I was sort of split down the middle by the end.


Kids with no standards will probably adore it. Adults with no standards will probably find it cute. Kids and adults with standards will probably see it as either harmless or mediocre. Even if the film spawned an entire Mavis-fueled cult following of horny artists, there’s not much worth to it that you can’t find better in similar pictures. Hotel Transylvania could really use, with every ounce of power I can muster, better room service.

Final Score: 4/10

The rating for all other films can be found at Letterboxd.

For more, check out the March of the Movies Archive!

If reading this compelled you to give me a dollar, feel free to tip me on Ko-fi.

Thank you for your time. Have a great rest of your day.

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