Friday, November 24, 2017
Movies

Adam Sandler scores when heard, not seen in 'Hotel Transylvania'

RECOMMENDED READING


By Steve Persall

Times Movie Critic

Here's some good career advice for Adam Sandler: Don't show your face in movies for a while.

That isn't meant rudely, just a practical observation after enjoying his voice-only turn in the animated comedy Hotel Transylvania. Toss in the laughs Sandler earned voicing a monkey in Zookeeper and bad memories of the Zohans, Jacks and Jills he played in the flesh aren't quite as vivid.

Hotel Transylvania casts Sandler as Dracula, though more silly than scary, with his nasal tone wrapped around a decent Bela Lugosi impression. This vampire count doesn't bite anyone as proprietor of a luxurious resort for monsters on vacation. He's also a helicopter parent to Mavis (Selena Gomez), who wants nothing more for her 118th birthday than to visit the outside world.

Dracula has taught Mavis that mortals are the real monsters, eager to kill any supernatural creatures of the night. Like any deca-teenager Mavis won't listen to Dad's advice, especially after meeting human cutie Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a backpacking traveler. Dracula must juggle planning Mavis' birthday party, realizing she's not his little girl anymore, and disguising Jonathan as a monster so his guests won't be frightened away.

Nestled in the release calendar between ParaNorman and Frankenweenie, Hotel Transylvania is a gentle, goofy change from those cartoons' more seriously eerie styles. There's nothing here to give small children nightmares. Director Genndy Tartakovsky cut his fangs on animated TV shows like The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory, with the same benign anarchy displayed here.

Most of the laughs arise from Tartakovsky's cheeky take on famous monsters of filmland, funneled through the ordinariness of vacationing. The hotel's bellhops are zombies, and talking shrunken heads hang from doorknobs urging housekeeping service or don't disturb. A continental breakfast includes bagels with scream cheese.

The guests are just as punny, voiced by Sandler's pals. Frankenstein (Kevin James) is a schlub bowing to the demands of his bride (Fran Drescher). Wayne the wolfman (Steve Buscemi) is the sly type, and Murray the mummy (Cee Lo Green) is all wrapped up in love. Tartakovsky keeps it simple, stupid and satisfying, although his animation doesn't do anything special with the 3-D gimmick, so spend less and get practically the same in return.

Hotel Transylvania doesn't raise the bar for animation or comedy but it's fun, and nice for once to have a different reason to say "boo" after an Adam Sandler flick.

Steve Persall can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8365.

Comments
What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

What’s in theaters for Thanksgiving: ‘Coco,’ ‘Last Flag Flying,’ ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

NOW IN THEATERS:COCODisney-Pixar’s animated dramedy Coco (PG) is inspired by Mexico’s annual Dia de los Muertos, the "day of the dead" when departed ancestors are celebrated. Good for diversity, although the movie isn’t as good as its intentions.Migu...
Published: 11/22/17
If you’re going to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ redo, make it ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

If you’re going to see ‘A Christmas Carol’ redo, make it ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’

The last thing this world needs is another rendition of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, likely the most remade, reimagined and ripped off literary property ever. At the same time, the world would be poorer without seeing Ebenezer Scrooge i...
Published: 11/22/17
‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

‘Roman J. Israel, Esq.’ is a sad waste of Denzel Washington

Denzel Washington’s labored portrayal of a shambling legal savant named Roman J. Israel, Esq. is the least of the movie’s worries. This is a story of shifting ethics that should be dramatic, but shaky logic prevents that from happening.Dan Gilroy’s f...
Updated: 5 hours ago
‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

‘Last Flag Flying’ is kind of a puzzling follow-up to 1973’s ‘The Last Detail’

Richard Linklater called 2016’s Everybody Wants Some!! a "spiritual sequel" to his last-century breakout Dazed and Confused. Different characters, same youthful, life-exploring vibe.Linklater’s latest, Last Flag Flying, can be considered a spiritual ...
Published: 11/21/17
Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s ‘Coco’ has a Dia de los Muertos theme and is, well, lifeless

Disney-Pixar’s Coco was more enjoyable three years ago when it was titled The Book of Life and came from Twentieth Century Fox.Both animated features spring from Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos celebration, the annual "day of the dead" when departed rela...
Updated: 3 hours ago
‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is a study in grief that’s so much more

‘Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri’ is a study in grief that’s so much more

Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is where Mildred Hayes vents grief over her daughter’s rape and murder, and anger toward a police chief who hasn’t solved the case. Ten words on stark canvases setting off a powder keg of poetic cruelty and u...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/21/17
What’s new in theaters this week: ‘Justice League,’ ‘Wonder,’ ‘The Star’

What’s new in theaters this week: ‘Justice League,’ ‘Wonder,’ ‘The Star’

OPENING FRIDAY:JUSTICE LEAGUEHow many superheroes does it take to salvage a comic book universe?Six. Five doing the heavy lifting and the Flash, who’s the lowercase joker DC’s too-serious superhero franchise needs.Justice League assembles two overdon...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/19/17
Why ‘Justice League’ nearly gets it right but still has DC movie problems

Why ‘Justice League’ nearly gets it right but still has DC movie problems

How many superheroes does it take to salvage a comic book universe?Six. Five doing the heavy lifting and the Flash, who’s the lowercase joker DC’s too-serious superhero franchise needs.Justice League assembles two overdone caped/cowled icons, a fresh...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Five cool things to see in ‘Star Wars and the Power of Costume’ in St. Petersburg

Five cool things to see in ‘Star Wars and the Power of Costume’ in St. Petersburg

Do you sense a disturbance in the Force?That would probably be the landing of "Star Wars and the Power of Costume" at the Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, earlier this week. I got a preview of the blockbuster Smithsonian exhibit (docked in our co...
Published: 11/15/17
‘Lord of the Rings’ TV series coming to Amazon Prime with possibility of spin-off

‘Lord of the Rings’ TV series coming to Amazon Prime with possibility of spin-off

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon says it has acquired the global television rights to "The Lord of the Rings," based on the fantasy novels by J.R.R. Tolkien, with a multi-season commitment. Set in Middle Earth, this TV series will explore new story lines prece...
Published: 11/13/17