Duncan and I had the pleasure of going to a preview showing of Hotel Transylvania, released in theaters on Friday, October 28th. We were actually quite surprised at this film- it had so many great elements, without the negative ones we expected.
First of all, I would not say this movie is scary. Our seven-year-old could have easily seen and enjoyed this movie with us. There are some rather unexpected or surprise moments which may be startling to the point of scary to a much younger child- there was a two-year old sitting behind us, and he was startled unpleasantly more than once.
The movie is likewise not “dumbed down” to the point of being boring to adults. I would say 85% of the pre-view audience was adults, and seemed to enjoy it very much.
The main concern for me with a children’s film is that it not be riddled with sexual content and inuendoes, inappropriate language, and an overall disrespect for authority. None of these were present in this film.
There were two main story lines going in this film. First, Dracula, the humorous and unexpected father is a typical protective dad of his daughter, turning 118 in the film. She wants to go out and see the world and break away from the happy, protective castle her father has spent his whole life creating for her. What is not typical is that he is a Vampire. This is not your typical vampire. He has impeccable manners, and states emphatically that he does NOT drink human blood- “It’s too fatty.” Instead he uses a blood substitute product likened to Egg Beaters. He is also quite afraid of humans, for reasons you discover later in the movie. He is a single dad, a widower, and in many ways reminds me of my own husband and most dads’ protective instincts about their little girl. It is funny and realistic all at once. He is a calm, loving father, gently singing his baby girl a lullaby, and reveals his monstrous side only when faced with a perceived threat toward her.
Watch this trailer to see what I mean:
The other major theme in the film is that a human dared to find his way into the “monster sanctuary.” Here he thinks he is at a grand costume party, but soon realizes that all the fictional monsters- from a not-so-scary Frankenstein to a blob, to the invisible man, to the skeletons in the closet are not just folks in costumes, but real. Of course, after hundreds of years of persecution and threats by humans to the monsters, the monsters are undeniably terrified of humans. They come to the Hotel as a vacation, a chance to kick back with their families and enjoy the things typical people enjoy- swimming, Karaoke dancing, and wonderful hotel service along with their children. It is like a huge family reunion for the monsters who all enjoy and respect the “Draculas” very much.
This film shows the father going to great lengths to protect his little girl and to create a safe haven for her, only in the end to(predictavely) realize she does need her freedom to experience some of the world for herself. But here is one huge difference I see between Hotel and other films with coming-of-age young ladies. In this film, the daughter, Mavis truly respects her father and his wishes. She seeks his approval before setting out to discover the world, and even though he has gone through great lengths to instill in her a fear of humans, she still loves him when she discovers the truth for herself.
My overall impression of this film: It was a fun family film and I would not hesitate to take my children to see it (noting my comments above about the surprise elements that may be a little frightening for littles). There were many hilarious parts, and many just silly parts. I doubt this film will have the staying power of some of the Disney titles, but we truly enjoyed it for what it was: An enjoyable movie for the whole family.
About the Movie (From Grace Hill Media):
Welcome to Hotel Transylvania, Dracula’s lavish five-stake resort, where monsters and their families can live it up, free to be the monsters they are without humans to bother them. On one special weekend, Dracula has invited some of his best friends – Frankenstein and his wife, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, and more – to celebrate his beloved daughter Mavis’s 118th birthday. For Drac, catering to all of these legendary monsters is no problem – but everything could change for the overprotective dad when one ordinary guy stumbles on the hotel and takes a shine to Mavis.
Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, CeeLo Green, Andy Samberg, Steve Buscemi