Hotel Transylvania (PG) ★½

Review Date: September 26th, 2012

Hotel Transylvania is studded with big names — Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, Jon Lovitz, the list goes on — but no amount of star power and 3D effects can rescue this monster movie from its one dimensional cast of ghouls and derivative overprotective father plot-line. In creating a hotel for monsters, someone hit upon a clever idea. However, the freshness stops there, as neither the storyline nor characters are remotely fleshed out.

Count Dracula (voiced by Sandler) has opened up a hotel, deep in the heart of the haunted forest, where monsters can check in for a little R&R without fearing human contact. But while Dracula guards his hotel with his life, he guards his adolescent daughter, Mavis (Gomez), even closer. She has lived a sheltered life, confined to the hotel, since her mother's death a century earlier. That is, until human manchild Johnny (Samberg) unexpectedly arrives at the hotel on Mavis' 118th birthday and shakes things up. What ensues is a disjointed catapult of a movie, one which more closely resembles an advertisement for the latest virtual reality amusement park ride than the story-driven animated films we love.

Our first glimpse of Johnny, snapping photos incessantly on his smart phone as he backpacks across the world, is enough to illicit a few laughs — we've all seen that wide-eyed, technology-obsessed kid before. But soon the 21-year-old is riding his Razor scooter and dropping Dave Matthews Band and Slipknot references, and you realize just how out of touch this film is. The clinging father storyline — filled with daughterly exclamations of, ''I just want to see the world!'' – and love at first sight trope (referred to as a ''zing'') are equally stale.

In the movie's final act, our monsters — which include a mummy, Frankenstein, the Invisible Man, and a family of werewolves — leave the confines of the hotel and venture into the human world. As our gang stumbles across a Monster Convention, full of costume-wearing monster-obsessed nerds, the film hits a high point. The self-referential humor that arises from the absurdity of the situation is a welcome relief from the fart jokes and sight gags that fill the film's first two thirds. However, it's too little too late.

Ultimately, Hotel Transylvania is a great choice for distracting the kids, who will likely respond well to the toilet humor and break-neck pace. Unfortunately, there's not much in this film for theatergoers over the age of seven to hold on to. rated this film 1 1/2 stars.