Friday, September 28, 2012

As Dracula, Adam Sandler Is Required To Suck


(Dir. Genndy Tartakovsky, 2012)

Those who have been waiting for a new fix of animated Adam Sandler hi-jinks - it’s been ten years since EIGHT CRAZY NIGHTS after all - will surely overdose on his hammy take on Dracula in HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, the new 3D CGI spectacle from the studio that brought you THE SMURFS.

Sandler, who also executive produced, does the typical Bela Lugosi impression for the voice of the famous vampire, except that he denies ever saying “bleh-bleh-bleh,” plays the ukulele, and can bust out a rhyme, you know, if the occasion calls for MC Dracula.

As the owner and creator of the lavish Hotel Transylvania, a vacation place only for monsters, Sandler’s Dracula is preparing for the 118th birthday of his precocious daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), when trouble arrives in the form of an airheaded backpacking teenager named Jonathan (SNL's Andy Samberg).

Dracula does what he can as an overprotective father to shield Mavis from the intruding human, but she feels what screenwriters Peter Baynham, Robert Smigel (a Sandler collaborator since their SNL days), along with director Genndy Tartakovsky who did a re-write, insist on calling a “zing” (love at first site) for the wacky kid. Not sure why, she’s a hundred years older than him and should know better than to fall for such a doofus, but, oh well.

The huge cast of supporting celebrity voices features Frankenstein's Monster (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (a more annoying than usual Fran Drescher, but that description fits almost everybody here), Wayne and Wanda Werewolf (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon), and the party-monster Murray the Mummy (Cee Lo Green).

There’s also Griffin the Invisible Man, voiced by Sandler’s old fellow SNL buddy David Spade, who is a good example of how each of the classic creatures are just one joke characters, and the joke isn’t funny in the first place.

In fact none of HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA is funny, despite how energetic and over-the-top it is. It could have something to do with the sizable percentage of pee, poop, and fart jokes that take the place of wit. At least there’s only a few pop culture references, but the ones that are there (a Dave Matthews mention, a viewing of TWILIGHT on an iPad) are huge groaners.

The animation is fine but not especially inspired, and there’s no sense of stakes (I’m not making a vampire joke here) in the story-line, since we know Samberg’s Jonathan is no threat to anybody, and Sandler’s Dracula is really a good guy with a big heart who will see the light. Yawn.

By the way isn’t natural light supposed to kill vampires? The big over-caffeinated chase scene finale takes place in the pure sunlight of the morning, and Dracula only gets a little singed.

The ending has Samberg and Sandler show off their rap skills to a big obnoxious auto-tuned pop song, capping 90 minutes of crap aptly. My nephews (ages 8, 14, and 15), who I took to the screening, said they liked it, but I seriously doubt it will take up much space in their memory.

More later...

No comments: