Hallowe'en is 30 days away, and some kids' Hallowe'en-ish movies have already come and gone. These movies are tough for us because even though they may be funny as a whole, individual scenes freak our five year-old out. So, all summer Will and I waited in the hall of our multiplex before our feature film started in order to avoid the previews of Frankenweenie, ParaNorman and Hotel Transylvania. Our big kids are still scarred from Coraline and Monster House, but we thought Hotel Transylvania would be more funny than scary, so we left Will at home, grabbed two other friends, and headed out.
Bottom line -- really funny, and really fun for the kids. The theater was pretty full, and a lot of child-less folks were there, too. The plot is very familiar to us -- basically Finding Nemo all over again. Happy mother, father and baby until an outside force (here, it's humans instead of sharks) kills the mom. Father dedicates his life to sheltering baby so that humans can never hurt her. Of course, the twist is that here the family are vampires (actually "the" vampires -- Count Dracula and clan). So, Dracula builds a huge castle where humans can never find it, and baby Mavis grows up in a loving cocoon. Adding more fun, Dracula holds the castle out as a hotel for monsters, where the monsters can relax from sharing the otuside world with humans who don't understand them and Mavis can have a rotating crop of aunts and uncles to populate her otherwise secluded life. A la Monsters, Inc., the monsters are more afraid of humans than the other way around.
But, now it's Mavis' 118th birthday, and she wants to spread her batwings and fly to see all the people and places that life on Earth offers, and her father is doing everything in his power (besides actual confinement) to convince her that the human world is a horrible place. And, a menagerie of fun monsters, voiced by funny actors, is at the hotel to help celebrate. Enter -- a cute, lovable human 21 year-old guy backpacking around the world who stumbles upon the castle. Yes, Dracula has to hide his humanity from his guests and keep Mavis from falling in love with him (fat chance). And when Dracula has to venture out to make things right, the humans, who actually love vampires, particularly Team Edward types, create a path for him similar to the Eastern Australia Current in Finding Nemo.
There's a lot of humor (maybe a little too much potty humor) and a lot of parental love, though misguided. My only fault with the movie is the theme that everyone has one person that they "zing" with and that once that zing happens, then your life is over if that person leaves. I think this is a dangerous theme for the tween/teen set, who imagine every crush to be a life-changing zing already. but, it's hard to get away from that in kids' movies, fairy tales or not.
Also, if you see a lot of kids' movies (like I do), it's hard to get Gru (Steve Carrell) from Despicable Me out of your head when Dracula (Adam Sandler) speaks.
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