Lee's Review: "Hotel Transylvania" and "Frankenweenie"

7:11 AM, Oct 5, 2012   |    comments
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(WLTX) - Halloween arrives early in Hollywood - so they can get as much money out of the kids' parents as possible!

First up, "Hotel Transylvania" introduces us to a softer, more paternal Count Dracula. The Count's daughter is 118 and has reached that age where it's time to leave the nest. But, since monsters aren't welcome in the human world, he and his ghoulish brethren trick her into staying. Besides, her legendary father's resort is the only place the creatures can be themselves...until a human stumbles in.

"Hotel Transylvania" had some cute moments - but clever it is not. They had plenty of ammunition for some gut-busting laughs but chose to hold their fire. Had this been done by the guys from "Shrek," it would have killed. Instead it's just another Adam Sandler movie co-starring a bunch of his buddies.

Normally, I'm impressed with the character animation (regardless of my overall opinion of the movie). This time, however, it really appeared to be phoned-in. Dracula looked like he was drafted straight from a cereal box. It's pretty sad when the most creatively visual character is the Invisible Man. And, while we're on the subject, don't bother shelling out more money for the 3D either. Yes, they phoned that in too.

The kids may find some appreciation for it while the parents will eagerly await credits.

But all is not lost. Clever cuteness (with just a smidgen of fright) arrives today in the form of "Frankenweenie." This has been a "pet project" of Tim Burton's for some years now. It originated as a short-film when he was just starting out and has now been re-imagined and expanded for the masses.

It's the story of young Victor Frankenstein and his dog, Sparky. Victor is a science whiz who is having trouble saying goodbye to his best friend. So, he uses his brain power (with a little help from Mother Nature) to resurrect his hound. And, once all the other kids learn what he has done, they want the secret in preparation for the big science fair. Suddenly, all creatures from Gamera to the gremlins are being parodied in a world of mad monster mayhem!

Perhaps the subject matter might seem a little too morbid for kids. But it also sports the Disney logo and you can rest assured that they'll provide something that's more fun than frightening. And, of course, it also comes with the brand's trademarked tenderness.

Every witty payoff that was vacant from "Hotel Transylvania" is accounted for in "Frankenweenie." The only problem is that the former was last week's number one draw, while the latter had a midnight showing to an audience of one (yours truly). I strongly encourage everyone, young and old, to engage themselves in this latest revision of Mary Shelley's macabre classic. It's definitely worth checking out. Just don't bother checking into "Hotel Transylvania."

By Lee O. Smith, News19 Movie Reviewer

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