Hotel Transylvania (2012)

Starring: Adam Sandler, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, CeeLo Green, Andy Samberg, Fran Drescher, Jon Lovitz

Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky

Rating: 1 2 3

Dracula (Adam Sandler) and Mavis (Selena Gomez) in Hotel Transylvania

Welcome to the Hotel Transylvania. Such a lovely place. Founded in 1898 by Count Dracula himself (Adam Sandler, channelling Bela Lugosi as if his life depends on it), this suitably gothic, cliff top retreat provides a refuge for persecuted monsters everywhere, a haven free from silver bullets, pitchfork-wielding locals and villagers brandishing garlic, stakes and burning torches.

Fast-forward over a century, and the hotel is still doing brisk business. But mine host is becoming increasingly preoccupied by his beloved daughter Mavis's coming of age party (she's 118) and with it, her desire to stray beyond the castle walls, and see the great, wide, big, bad world, a dangerous place for ghoulies, ghosties, creatures of the night and anyone else who's different. And when a intrepid backpacking human (Andy Samberg) crashes the party and catches her eye, it seems Drac's worst nightmares are about to come true.

Like Fantastic Mr Fox or Finding Nemo, Hotel Transylvania picks at an age-old plot: the passage of a young person from child to adult, and the migraine-level headaches this causes their parents. Okay, so that's to place this simple, inocuous little film in rather elevated company, but that's not to say that Hotel Transylvania lacks charm.

Guests at the Hotel Transylvania, including CeeLo Green's Mummy and Steve Buscemi's Wereworld

The CGI isn't Up! but it's still pretty good, and there are some marvellous characters to meet, particularly Steve Buscemi's downtrodden Werewolf, CeeLo Green's exuberant Mummy and Fran Drescher's splendid Noo Joisey Bride of Frankenstein, complete with Elsa Lanchester's trademark two-tone barnet primped into a Hairspray-style beehive.

The Mummy (CeeLo Green) and Frankenstein (Kevin James) in Hotel Transylvania

It's sweetly inoffensive (unless you take umbrage at fart jokes and fly vomit) and there are no eyebrow-raising nudge-nudge-wink-wink innuendoes for the adults. We have to satisfy ourselves with enjoying the happy story, the delightful attention to detail and the all-round ‘aw bless' cuteness of the production – although there is a rather nice dig at Twilight near the end.

Despite the overall concept, there is nothing remotely dark about this daft U-rated family-friendly fun-fest. But I must say, I thoroughly enjoyed it. So check your brain and your critical faculties at the door and indulge in a cleansing, cynicism-free break at Hotel Transylvania. What a nice surprise.

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