Saturday, December 8, 2012

Hospitality Assured

After having been subjected to the horror of a series that almost destroyed the eeriness of vampires, the Count seems to have decided to revive the classical image of the blood-sucking monster, who lives in an off-limits, secluded medieval castle. Genndy Tartakovsky's Hotel Transylvania is a refreshing animated film and a pleasant experience to undergo.

The Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, is a monster tormented by the tortures his family was put through by the humans. He therefore decides to build a secret recluse for all the monsters, where they could come to get away from the dangers of the outside world. His primary concern is his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez's voice), who is quite fascinated by the world outside and wants to know what a human is like. On the occasion of her 118th birthday (yes, 118th; she's Dracula's daughter, remember?), Dracula throws a party for all the monsters from across the world. The Egyptian mummy, Frankenstein's monster and his wife, a family of werewolves and even Big Foot are present. However, Dracula's party is spoiled when Jonathan, a human, accidently crashes at the hotel. Dracula fixes him up to look like Frankenstein's cousin and Johnny too is quite okay, as long as he thinks it is a costume party. In the meantime, Johnny and Mavis fall in love with each other, giving rise to the question - can humans and monsters live together in harmony?

At 91 minutes, the film has a lot of content in the first half and none of it is unnecessary. The little, quirky bits about the myths related to every monster are explored in the most natural manner and the film definitely is quite humourous. The screenplay, which is the most important element of an animation film, is very tight and executed with precision. However, the humour and magic left aside, Hotel Transylvania is a simple story of a protective father who can go to any limits to prevent his daughter from harm. It is a mundane love story of two individuals who are completely different from each other.

This brings us to the next highlight of the film - its audience. Although a good bedtime story of a monster is for kids, this film may not be one you can take for granted as an entertainer for kids. Of course, there are sequences, one after another, which are utterly hilarious and don't require you to be smart to understand. And on that count, the film is entertaining throughout its duration. However, there are little cultural connotations and references that one can catch only if they are exposed to them prior to watching the film. Moments like Dracula saying, "Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania" or scenes featuring zombies of Beethoven and Mozart, require a certain cultural consciousness which comes only with age.

However, there is little disappointment that one feels after watching the film, except perhaps how quickly it gets over. Adam Sandler's Dracula is absolutely adorable and has, in the larger scheme of things, restored the respect we had for the dark monster who wears a cape. Hotel Transylvania is cozy, comfortable and hospitable. One of those sweet films that you cherish viewing and a memory from which you can check out any time you want, but you can never leave.

Rating - 3 out of 5

Published in DNA After Hrs (Pune) on December 8, 2012

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