2012-09-28

Hotel Transylvania – A Movie With "Zing"

by Yo Snyder

I’m a fan of the classics. You know, Tom and Jerry, Droopy, the
golden age of Looney Tunes. Guys like Chuck Jones, Friz Freleng, Fred
Quimby, and of course Tex Avery. Those were cartoons with manic, zany
energy, wacky gags, but they also had smarts and plenty of heart. They
didn’t pander to children, heck, they weren’t even made for children,
and yet they entertaining to all. Well, Genndy Tartakovsky has worked on
shows like Samurai Jack and Dexter’s Laboratory, shows that emulate the zaniness, energy and smarts of those classics, and he brings those same classic sensibilities to Hotel Transylvania.
This may be what it might have been like had Tex Avery worked with CG
animation instead of pioneering things back in the hand drawn era. This
movie is fast, bursting with energy, full of laughs, and most
importantly of all, extremely entertaining for everyone. It’s even
surprisingly insightful, but more on that in a moment.

Any fan of the Universal’s classic monsters will dig this movie. It
highlights all the favorites; Dracula, Frankenstein, the Mummy, Wolfman
and the Invisible Man. It even has some fun little inside jokes for you
die hard fans of the classic monster pack. However, even if you aren’t a
classic movie monster fan, there’s plenty for you to enjoy here because
the characters are so enjoyable. This is because first of all the
writing is tight and zippy, with sight gags and jokes coming fast and
furious all over the place while still finding a few moments for some
quieter moments of character development. Of course, all of that works
so well because of the second thing, which is some great voice work.
Adam Sandler is the prime example of this as he affects a stereotypical
Transylvanian accent for his portrayal of Dracula, making him a fun
character to watch and listen to (my kids ran around trying to talk like
him the whole next day, just a fair warning). Steve Buscemi perfectly
embodies a worn down Wolfman with too many kids that don’t listen to
him. Kevin James, who’s always a lot fun, plays the fun-loving
Frankenstein, a character who I wish would have a little more screen
time. However, it’s Andy Samberg who often steals the show with his
carpe diem loving, always ready to have a good time Jonathan; the human
that crashes the monsters party and is the catalyst for all the fun to
follow. His interaction with Sandler makes up both the heart of the
movie and many of it’s most enjoyable moments.

Now I said earlier
that I found this movie surprising, and that’s not just because it was
funnier and more enjoyable than I expected it to be. What surprised me
most about it was how sincerely it approached a very important topic. Hotel Transylvania calls it the “zing”; the moment when you meet that one, special person and you know, you just know,
that they’re the one with whom you want to share your life with;
forever. This, as we’re told in the movie, is something very special,
something to be cherished, and not something to treat frivolously
because it only happens once and never again. The reason I find that
thought so surprising is because it’s pretty much what the Bible tells
us about relationships. God created us to love and be loved, both by him
and by that very special person known as a spouse. Yet, somewhere along
the way, our world got it into their head that being with just one
person is boring, and it’s so much better to be with as many people who
make you feel good as possible. But what has that resulted in? Broken
relationships, broken marriages, loneliness (ironically enough),
unfulfillment, heartache and more. It’s just not the way relationships
were meant to be, which is why I found it so surprising and refreshing
to hear Hotel Transylvania talk about the “zing” and just how
important and special that is (it even mentions that following the
“zing” comes the ring, another rare declaration of the importance of
commitment in a truly loving relationship).  Quite frankly, I think Hotel Transylvania
has it right. I was “zinged” fifteen years ago, and they have been the
best, most exciting, enjoyable, and fun years of my life; which you
don’t always hear from those who think you should just “love the one
you’re with.”

So zany, frantic and often very funny action, great
and memorable characters brought to life with excellent voice work by a
fun cast, a surprisingly heartfelt message about the special gift of the
“zing”, all wrapped up in a colorful, eye-pleasing package; all of that
combines to make Hotel Transylvania a winner. My family has
several movies that we traditionally pull out once a year for Christmas
to watch together, which we love, but we don’t have many for Halloween
aside from It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. Well, walking out of the theater after seeing Hotel Transylvania,
it was pretty much unanimous; we all felt like we had just seen our new
favorite annual Halloween movie. I can’t think of any higher praise to
give to a film than that.

Score: 5 of 7