In the new animated feature "Hotel Transylvania," Dracula trades in blood-sucking for some business entrepreneurship. As the proprietor of the number one resort for monsters (like Frankenstein's Monster, the Wolfman, Mummy and Invisible Man) he promises them a luxurious vacation away from pitchfork-wielding townsfolk. The zero-tolerance stance on humans is extra beneficial to Drac since he's trying to raise a teenage daughter as a single father. His daughter Mavis is about to celebrate her 118th birthday and the gift she wants more than anything else is independence, but freedom means stepping outside the safe confines of the Hotel and Drac isn't ready for that step. But his comfort won't matter soon enough when a dopey college backpacker -- and, gasp(!), human -- stumbles upon the Hotel and threatens to steal Mavis' heart and ruin his business.
So how does "Hotel Transylvania" stack up? We weigh the pros and cons of the animated comedy. (MILD SPOILERS FOLLOW)
PRO: It's a love letter to old-school movie monsters
If you've ever had a soft spot for the collective works of Lugosi, Chaney, Karloff and the rest of the Universal Studios black-and-white classics, you'll be in heaven. The film is loaded with monsters of all shapes, sizes and colors.
CON: Adam Sandler's reputation
Sandler is a love 'em or leave 'em kind of comedian -- and after movies like "Jack and Jill" and "That's My Boy," the leave 'ems might have the majority. The idea of listening to him talk with a half-rate Transylvanian accent for 90 minutes is enough to scare a lot of people away.
PRO: Adam Sandler is surprisingly enjoyable.
We've had an up-and-down relationship with the "SNL" vet's acting career, but we can admit that he's actually pretty decent in this. The main reason is that he's reined in; it feels like he was given actual direction, and as a result, he was able to craft a Dracula impression that is both sweet and humorous.
CON: Andy Samberg as Jonathan, the human backpacker
Samberg became a buzzed-about comedian with his "Digital Shorts" on "SNL," but one skill he desperately needs to work on is voice-acting. There's just something annoying about the voice he affects for the role of the young doofus, and honestly, you want him to keep his mouth shut.
PRO: Director Genndy Tartakovsky
Tartakvoksy got his start on Cartoon Network, creating the beloved shows "Dexter's Laboratory," "Samurai Jack" and the good, non-CGI version of "Star Wars: Clone Wars." He's one of the most stylistic, unique directors working in the field of animation and he's amassed a devoted fanbase that have been anxiously awaiting his big-screen debut. There are many aspects of "Transylvania" that feel like his signature style.
CON: Tartakovsky didn't have 100% creative control
The movie has been in development since 2006 and has gone through five previous directors and several re-writes. The cartoon auteur has been able to make "HT" feel like his movie, but there are some gags that don't fit with Tartakovsky's brand of humor at all. They've been stitched on to the final product, giving it a Frankenstein-ish feel.
PRO: Wacky "Looney Tunes"-style humor
Tartakovsky is an imaginative animator who understands the visual potential of the field; as he explained to Moviefone, the film was inspired by the classic "Merrie Melodies" sketches, and it shows. "HT" is filled with slapstick, sight gags and mind-bending physical comedy. This movie is totally cartoonish, and we mean that as a compliment.
CON: But it's still got some bathroom humor.
Little kids love a good poop joke, so what are you gonna do?
CON: Fran Drescher and David Spade as the Bride of Frankenstein and the Invisible Man.
The once-and-future "Nanny" adopts her trademark nagging, shrill voice for the character. And out of everyone in the cast Spade sounds the least excited to be involved, with a performance that feels phoned in.
PRO: The zombies
Dracula's brain-dead minions made us chuckle everytime we saw them. They're kind of adorable, in a disgusting way.