What if monsters were actually lovable, harmless, and fun?  You'd have Hotel Transylvania, a movie with classic monsters aimed squarely at little kids.

Dracula (Adam Sandler, doing a continual Bela Lugosi imitation) built the Hotel Transylvania as a refuge for monsters to come out of the darkness, relax, and hang out.  He also built it keep his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) safe, after her mother was killed by humans.  Mavis wants to explore the world, but Dracula wants to keep her safe from humans; he even creates a fake village to scare her from leaving.

To celebrate Mavis' 118th birthday (the monster equivalent of turning 18, apparently), Dracula has all of their monster friends over to celebrate: Frankenstein and his wife Eunice (Kevin James and Fran Drescher), the wolfman Wayne and his wife Wanda (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon), Murray the mummy (CeeLo Green), and Griffin the invisible man (David Spade).

Then there's the uninvited guest: Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a young man who loves to travel and who stumbled across the hotel by accident.  Dracula wants him gone, both to keep him from scaring the monstrous guests and for his safety ("Are these monsters gonna kill me?"  "Not as long as they think you're a monster."  "That's kinda racist.") but every time Johnathan tries to leave, something brings him back.  He also has an instant romantic connection with Mavis, and everyone but Dracula love his free-spirited approach to holding a party.

With all these classic movie monsters, I wish Hotel Transylvania had a bit more humor for adults.  There are some jabs at Twilight and a few jokes blue enough to move the movie from G to PG, but the monsters are basically silly, probably to keep from scaring the kids.  The actors all do decently with their voices (though Samberg stands out as the surfer dude-type who just wants to have fun), but the story is a pretty straightforward one about a parent learning to stop controlling/protecting his daughter.  There are plenty of cute moments through the movie -- and a creative chase involving flying tables -- but this doesn't succeed in appealing to grown-ups as much as to the kids.  (Dvd extras include a mini-movie, some storyboards of deleted scenes, and interviews).

Overall grade: B-
Reviewed by James Lynch

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