Sometimes you have to let go of a predisposition and give something a chance. This isn’t exclusive to film by any means, but given our tendency to hold certain actors or directors in a purely negative light, I’d say it’s a pretty common thing for those of us who love movies. One of my predispositions is to actively avoid most Adam Sandler films since the early 2000’s.
This is easier said than done. Sandler has remained very much in the spotlight over the past two decades, despite starring in numerous releases that were critically panned and universally rejected. You Don’t Mess with the Zohan, Grown Ups, Jack & Jill, Grown Ups 2 and Pixels are just a few of his misfires. That didn’t stop Netflix from handing him a multi-million dollar deal in 2014 to make exclusive content for the streaming juggernaut, which was extended in 2017. Either there’s still a market for his outdated comedy or Sandler has blackmail on every top executive in Hollywood. Maybe both.
And while there is plenty of evidence that his best days are behind him and that our time and money are best spent elsewhere, I couldn’t help but be intrigued by the Hotel Transylvania franchise. I love animation and thought the premise was fun: some of the world’s most infamous movie monsters shack up together at Dracula’s manor turned hotel, mainly because they need to avoid humans to survive. It’s also not unprecedented for certain actors to be better suited for voice acting over live-action, so I figured what the hell? I paid the five dollars to buy Hotel Transylvania on blu-ray, fully prepared to be disappointed but hopeful that Sandler might still have a couple of tricks up his sleeve.
To my genuine surprise, I actually liked the movie. Now it’s certainly not without its faults. Sandler’s trademark toilet humor still rears its ugly head, despite the fact that it should’ve been left back in the 90’s. He also brings his usual cohorts along for the ride, and while I enjoy actors like Steve Buscemi and David Spade as much as the next guy, it’s hard for anything that Sandler does to feel fresh when he works with the same people over and over. I guess that Seth Rogen and James Franco are equally guilty of this type of nepotism, so I suppose I can’t trash Sandler too much for that. Thankfully, he restrains himself just enough here to allow this fundamentally entertaining story to shine through.
It’s also boosted by the presence of Genndy Tartakovsky. Having the Samurai Jack creator at the helm of your animated project is always a good thing, and of course he is his usual reliable self. Throw in some young(er) talent like Andy Samberg and Selena Gomez, and you have all the ingredients for a perfectly watchable family-friendly movie. That’s more or less what you get here, but audiences ate it up in droves. There have already been two sequels and there are plans for a fourth installment in the franchise. Is there any actor better than Sandler at securing his next payday? I’ll give him that much.
Suffice to say, I didn’t experience anything revolutionary with Hotel Transylvania. I also laughed a fair amount and didn’t feel like clawing my eyes out at any point. That’s a win for any movie not trying to take itself too seriously, especially a Sandler one. There’s also a brilliant joke at Twilight’s expense, which alone was worth spending the five dollars.
It’s the small things in life that you treasure.