Hotel Transylvania

3 out of 5

Director: Gendy Tartakovsky

Probably one of the most legitimately funny and visually creative animated movies I’ve seen in quite a while, director Tartakovsky, according to the wiki page, attempted to approach the CG world with the same sort of anything-goes manic-ness of Tex Avery-style animation.  It might seem like computer graphics have allowed such imagination to come to life more easily, but you’ll notice a difference in pacing and dialogue patter as soon as the flick gets going.  Ever since we shifted over to CG for de facto animation, spectacle and adventure HAS become easier to paint upon the screen, a sense of scope not always achievable in the more ‘2D’ world of hand-drawn art.  However, whether it’s some uncanny valley aspect or something, our brains and eyes just weren’t ready for the in-and-out surrealism of classic Looney Tunes done up in computer.  Thankfully, time has passed and we can digest it now, only just barely, for when HT is in full gear, your eyes are zooming left and right to try to gather all of the amazing detail and visual zingers, and amazingly, it keeps up this pacing for most of the movie, Genndy’s training with big and small screen animation / storyboarding giving him a great sense of comedic timing and framing.  But.. when it slows down for story it gets woefully typical, and these elements (the beginning, a middle “moral” learned, most of the last ten or fifteen minutes) just don’t mesh well with the flow.  You want to get back to the gags.  For fans of Genndy’s particular animation style, you will see it pop up in a lot of character responses and movements, though the designs are mostly out of the CG playbook.  And the ending credits are a nice gift.  However, Genndy must’ve sneaked in some tweaks to Drac, who at times is a shoe-in for, uh Jack.  Otherwise, we have some genre stalwarts to thank for how packed the design is with visual goodness.  The voice actors also do their duty well enough, but Adam Sandler is especially surprising in an accented and yet restrained-at-the-right-moments portrayal of Dracula.  It’s a joy to watch, if not particularly deep or original beyond the zippy surface.

The blu-ray release has some kid friendly additions – some new shorts, some singalongs – but it’s very much made with adult fans – and like Genndy fans – in mind, as there’s a lot on process (that ends up supporting my fascination with how animated the style of the flick is), and the film commentary with Tartakovsky, the lead animator, and the producer, is very informative on how the movie changed during the production process, and the efforts required from scene to scene.  Also, one of the aforementioned shorts is a hand-drawn Genndy joint, so that’s a win-win.

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