Hotel Transylvania: Fantastic, Fuzzy, Family-Friendly Fun

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. 

Most people wouldn’t know that this was first used, at least in its present form, in James Howell’s Proverbs in English, Italian, French and SpanishMost people associate this quote with Stephen King’s The Shining, or with the movie adaptation starring Jack Nicholson–especially that scene where Jack types the quote again and again on reams of paper.

No matter where you heard it from first, it still qualifies as one of the most important things to keep in mind as you go about life. So now that it’s Friday and the weekend’s just waiting for you to get off the couch and out into the world, remember, it’s never bad to have a little wholesome fun.

This was what I had in mind when I dragged my sisters to the mall to watch Hotel Transylvania. I saw the trailer a while back and I liked the look and feel of it. And come on, how can you go wrong with an animated movie from Columbia and Sony Pictures?

Hotel Transylvania was basically designed to blow the classic monster story away and establish its own plot line, away from the pitchfork-toting mobs and silver bullets of yore. In a nutshell, the movie was about Count Dracula who, wanting to protect his daughter from the evils of man and the persecution that comes with being a monster, builds a castle in the remotest area he could find and calls it Hotel Transylvania. It was designed to be a haven for monsters from all over the world–a place where they can be themselves, away from the prying eyes and the persecution of mankind.

The hotel was supposed to be impenetrable. It was surrounded by miles and miles of scary and creepy forests. The hotel itself was ringed by acres of cemeteries filled with the living dead. Any human would have run away screaming if it came close to the place. However, somehow, a human backpacker found his way into the hotel. If that’s not bad enough, Dracula’s daughter–Mavis–falls in love with the human. What’s old Drac gonna do?

You gotta admit, though the movie’s plot was pretty catchy, it was also very predictable. However, you’re not gonna think about that while you’re in the cinema surrounded by dozens of kids who are having the time of their lives. I think what makes this movie really fun is the fact that the voice actors work together really well. Do you remember that Adam Sandler film The Grown Ups? Well, this movie features a lot of the same cast, plus a few other notable people.

Also, whatever ideas you have about monsters and the living dead won’t apply to this movie. Take, for instance, the characters mentioned in that poster.

  • Count Dracula isn’t the same as the traditional cape-wearing vampire as described by Bram Stoker or as portrayed by Gary Oldman. He’s basically an eccentric billionaire who got really paranoid after his wife got killed by humans. To safeguard his only living family, he retreats to the woods and builds a home where monsters like him can feel safe and be happy. Doesn’t that make you feel warm and fuzzy?
  • Mavis isn’t your typical daughter-of-Dracula either. She’s perky and bubbly, and all she wants is to see the world and maybe get to go to Hawaii, where her parents first met. She wants to fall in love and meet people–she’s 118 for crying out loud. She needs people her own age!
  • Johnny is a backpacker who’s been travelling with some friends all over the world for fun. They were mountain-climbing when they accidentally left him behind, so he just wandered off on his own. He heard some stories about a creepy forest from the local folk and heck, who wouldn’t want to go into a scary forest? So he hikes up his trusty backpack, charges his digital camera, and walks off into the gloom. Who knows what might happen?
  • The supporting cast–Frankenstein, the Mummy, and the Werewolf–all help liven things up a bit with their antics. Frankenstein hasn’t scared villagers in centuries and he thinks he’s forgotten how to do it. Now he’s just a big softie with a wife. The Mummy just wants to have fun. He was an entertainer of the pharaohs in the good old days, and he’s still having a hard time letting go. The Werewolf, on the other hand, just wants some rest and relaxation. Having about fifty pups will do that to you.

What I loved about the movie were two things: (a) the focus on family, and (b) what the movie referred to as the ‘zing’. First off, old Drac was just doing what he thinks will help keep his little Mavis safe. He’s the quintessential parent–a little too overbearing, but thoroughly well-meaning. I loved how the movie was able to weave in a lot of the problems that come with parenthood, as well as being a teenager (at 118, Mavis was technically a teenager in vampire years), into the story.

Secondly, ‘zing’ can be a noun and a verb. It’s when you look into someone’s eyes for the first time and just know that you’re going to get married someday. It’s what happened between the Count and his wife. It only happens once, so when you zing, make sure that you don’t let your zing get away.

The movie promises a whole lot of family-friendly fun and, as far as I’m concerned, it did not disappoint. It’s not an epic film. You’re not going to walk out of the movie house while saying ‘whoa’ over and over again, like what happened to me after I watched Inception. What it’s gonna leave you with is that warm feeling you get when you watch something that didn’t fail to make you laugh more times than you thought you would have.

So this weekend, drag the family to the mall nearest you and watch Hotel Transylvania. I promise you won’t be disappointed. If you need a little more incentive, then watch the trailer:

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