‘Transylvania’ fast, fun and wildly inventive

Where do monsters go to get away from the horrors of modern life — namely, us humans?

Where do monsters go to get away from the horrors of modern life — namely, us humans?

That’s the lighthearted premise behind Hotel Transylvania, a fast, funny and wildly inventive animated tale with enough laughs and heart to appeal to audiences of all ages.

Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) is major-domo of the hotel, a secluded and welcome getaway for his menagerie of unloved fellow freaks, dead and undead.

He’s also a doting dad to Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez), who as the grand celebration of her 118th birthday approaches, longs to get out into the real world.

“Hush little vampire/ don’t say a word/ papa’s gonna bite the head off a bird,” croons Daddy Long Fangs in a flashback moment — a perversely amusing riff on The Mockingbird Song — as he disposes of a malodorous diaper in a coffin-shaped laundry hamper.

From the outset, we are reassured that Dracula and his ilk are far more afraid than the reverse of humankind, who long ago took the life (or un-life, possibly) of his dear wife, Martha. In fact, his diet consists solely of “blood substitute” rather than the real thing, which is “so fatty and you never know where it’s been.”

The rest of the monster mash-up are wittily drawn and rendered, among them slow-witted (“Fire . . . BAD”) Frankenstein (voiced by Kevin James), a much-wearied Wolfman (voiced by Steve Buscemi), who must contend with a litter of furry terrors with more in the oven, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Blob and a rogue’s ghoulery of others.

The jokes, along with the animated action, come fast and furious. One particularly piquant detail: the hotel staff consists of shambling, groaning zombie bellhops, witches (with broomsticks, of course) as chambermaids and a series of shrunken-head door-hanger signs that drop amusing bon mots at every opportunity.

The festive mood is shattered for Daddy Drac when hiker/slacker-dude Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel by accident, sparking a furious effort by the host to keep him away from the other guests, who would be horrified to find a mortal in their midst, and the wanderlust-struck Mavis.

The animation is superb, including the 3-D effects, with enough attention to detail to make the film worth sitting through more than once.

The humour is largely of the slapstick variety and likely to appeal both to youngsters and to adults, for whom the vast array of movie monsters is sure to evoke a sense of nostalgia for B-grade horror films of yesteryear. There may even be a little lesson in there for the grown-ups about the perils of being overly protective parents.

Which brings up a fair question: is this film suitable for the very young?

Well, there are a couple of brief (and comical) moments when an enraged Dracula swells up rather terrifyingly and a rather intense climatic scene in which he is nearly toasted by the daylight, both of which parents may wish to consider in their decision.

But don’t let those minor reservations scare you. Hotel Transylvania is a sweet, good-natured howl for the whole family.

Bruce DeMara is a syndicated Toronto Star movie critic.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

A commercial building, housing two businesses, in Stettler was completed destroyed by a fire Thursday. (Photo courtesy Stettler Regional Fire Department)
Fire destroys commercial building in Stettler

A commercial building just outside of Stettler was destroyed by a fire… Continue reading

Almost half of Alberta's population should have at least one shot by the end of May said Premier Jason Kenney Monday morning.
Alberta poised for economic ‘renaissance’ after pandemic, says premier

Economic recovery is Alberta’s “next big challenge,” says the province’s premier. “It’s… Continue reading

Red Deer has a new welcome sign at the south end at the new entrance from Hwy 2. (Photo by SUSAN ZIELINSKI/Advocate staff)
Red Deer ranks 241st on MacLean’s Best Communities list

The list features 415 Canadian communities

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

A FedEx worker loads the 255,600 doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine which came from Europe into a freezer trailer to be transported during the COVID-19 pandemic at Pearson International Airport in Toronto on Wednesday, March 24, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Canada’s incoming supply of Moderna vaccine slashed in half through end of April

Procurement Minister Anita Anand says Canada’s incoming vaccine supply from Moderna will… Continue reading

Red Deer Public Schools will not pilot the new draft curriculum at its elementary schools. (File photo contributed by Red Deer Public Schools)
UPDATED: Red Deer Public Schools says no to piloting new curriculum

Alberta Teachers’ Association support school boards

Have an opinion you'd like to share? Submit letters to the editor through our website, via email or the postal service. (Heather Colpitts/Black Press Media)
Letter: MLAs who are against tougher restrictions have no plan for consequences

The group of UCP MLAs pushing to end lockdowns are exacerbating what… Continue reading

Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair leaves the police station after being charged with two counts of sexual assault dating back to 2014, Friday, May 29, 2020, in Montreal. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Preliminary inquiry in September for ex-PQ leader Boisclair charged with sex assault

MONTREAL — Former Parti Quebecois leader Andre Boisclair will have a preliminary… Continue reading

Three vials of the Moderna COVID-19 Vaccine are pictured in a new coronavirus, COVID-19, vaccination center at the Velodrome-Stadium in Berlin, Germany, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Michael Sohn, pool
Trudeau sending help to Ontario as Pfizer vaccine supply bolstered by 8 million doses

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says more doses of COVID-19 vaccines are coming… Continue reading

Teachers demonstrate outside a school during a morning walk out in Longueuil, Que., Wednesday, April 14, 2021. Around 73,000 Quebec teachers say they will walk off the job for several hours on April 27. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
73,000 Quebec teachers plan to walk off the job for more than two hours April 27

MONTREAL — Around 73,000 Quebec teachers say they will walk off the… Continue reading

People line up in the rain for a COVID-19 vaccine at a pop-up clinic at the Masjid Darus Salaam in the Thorncliffe Park neighbourhood in Toronto on Sunday, April 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn
Ontario science advisers urge six-week stay-home order as province pleads for help

TORONTO — Ontario’s science advisers called for a six-week stay-at-home order and… Continue reading

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, 66, died Tuesday at Chinook Regional Hospital. (Cornerstone Funeral Home)
Lethbridge doctor becomes 7th Alberta health-care worker to die from COVID-19

Dr. Wayne John Edwards, who was 66, died Tuesday at the Chinook Regional Hospital in the southern Alberta city

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney updates media on measures taken to help with COVID-19, in Edmonton on Friday, March 20, 2020. Alberta is set to join three other provinces in exploring the feasibility of small modular reactors as a clean energy option. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Students in Alberta town ready to return to school after quarantining

ATHABASCA, Alta. — A superintendent of schools in northern Alberta says the… Continue reading

Britain’s Prince Charles, with Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, visits the gardens of Marlborough House, London, Thursday April 15, 2021, to look at the flowers and messages left by members of the public outside Buckingham Palace, following the death of Prince Philip. (Jeremy Selwyn/Pool via AP)
Princes William, Harry won’t walk side-by-side at funeral

LONDON — Prince William and Prince Harry won’t walk side-by-side Saturday as… Continue reading

Most Read