Friday, February 23, 2018
Movies

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

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
‘Annihilation’ is strange, beautiful biological mystery

‘Annihilation’ is strange, beautiful biological mystery

Alex Garland’s Annihilation is a bracing blend of cerebral sci-fi and grindhouse terror, a genre movie that’s more, maybe too much for some viewers.Based on Tallahassee author Jeff VanderMeer’s novel, Annihilation on the surface is a dead-ducks missi...
Published: 02/22/18
Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams comedy ‘Game Night’ is more fun than it deserves to be

Jason Bateman and Rachel McAdams comedy ‘Game Night’ is more fun than it deserves to be

Good movie comedies are in short supply these days, making Game Night more fun than it deserves to be.There are laughs, a couple from the belly, and none of the lazy scatological, narcotic or pubic humor Seth Rogen’s crowd prefers. The cast is appeal...
Published: 02/21/18

Toga! Toga! 40th anniversary celebration of ‘National Lampoon’s Animal House’ in Tampa this week

In the immortal words of Flounder at Faber College’s homecoming parade: Oh boy, this is gonna be great!A 40th anniversary celebration of National Lampoon’s Animal House featuring appearances by two stars of the quintessential campus comedy happens Th...
Published: 02/21/18
In theaters this week: ‘Annihilation’ based on Florida author Jeff VanderMeer’s book, ‘Game Night,’ ‘Every Day’

In theaters this week: ‘Annihilation’ based on Florida author Jeff VanderMeer’s book, ‘Game Night,’ ‘Every Day’

ANNIHILATIONAuthor Jeff VanderMeer told me at last year’s Times Festival of Reading that Annihilation (R) is going to blow everyone’s mind. The Tallahassee author is biased, of course, having written the novel it’s based on, but there’s some reason t...
Published: 02/21/18
'Black Panther' blows past expectations, sets box-office record

'Black Panther' blows past expectations, sets box-office record

NEW YORK — A wave of feverish anticipation, fawning critical acclaim and groundbreaking cultural meaning pushed "Black Panther" to a record-setting $192 million debut in U.S. and Canada theaters, firmly establishing the superhero sensation as a...
Published: 02/19/18
What’s in theaters this week: ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Early Man,’ ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’

What’s in theaters this week: ‘Black Panther,’ ‘Early Man,’ ‘Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool’

OPENING THURSDAY: BLACK PANTHERLike its real-life radical namesakes, Black Panther (PG-13) promises to be truly revolutionary. Marvel Comics’ landmark African-American superhero comes to life with its blackness intact, no small feat in homogenized Ho...
Published: 02/14/18
‘Black Panther’ has Tampa Bay ready to hit theaters

‘Black Panther’ has Tampa Bay ready to hit theaters

We can feel the rawr all over Tampa Bay this weekend.Black Panther, Marvel’s hotly anticipated superhero movie, opens today. It’s expected to gross $150 million over Presidents’ Day weekend, more than all three Marvel movies released in 2017. It’s no...
Published: 02/14/18
Why ‘Black Panther’ is revolutionary — and an excellent movie

Why ‘Black Panther’ is revolutionary — and an excellent movie

Like its real-life radical namesakes, Black Panther is revolutionary and Afrocentric, a black cultural fantasy made real in a medium taking too long. Children of any color except white haven’t seen blockbuster movie superheroes that look like them.No...
Published: 02/13/18
Updated: 02/14/18
‘Early Man’ is a throwback in both story and Aardman Studios claymation style

‘Early Man’ is a throwback in both story and Aardman Studios claymation style

Nick Park’s stop-motion clay animation made famous with Wallace & Gromit seems prehistoric in a digital age. That makes it perfectly suited for Early Man, a throwback in both story and Aardman Studios style. Early Man is Park’s first...
Published: 02/13/18
Social media backlash after ‘Peter Rabbit’ pokes fun at allergies

Social media backlash after ‘Peter Rabbit’ pokes fun at allergies

LOS ANGELES — Peter Rabbit filmmakers and the studio behind it are apologizing for insensitively depicting a character’s allergy in the film that has prompted backlash online. Sony Pictures says Sunday in a joint statement with the filmmakers that "f...
Published: 02/12/18