In the nineteenth century, Count Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) builds a refuge for monsters. He does it not for the business – despite it being billed as Hotel Transylvania – as a way to keep his new daughter, Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) safe from the outside world.
The film moves to today, where Mavis is celebrating her 118th birthday, and she’s feeling restless. She wants to explore the big wide world! But the Count wants nothing of it, fearing she will be hunted by humans, as all monsters are hunted.
But a world-travelling, backpacking human named Jonathan (voice of Andy Samberg) arrives by accident. It’s a good set-up for gags, as the Count tries to keep human Jonathan hidden from all the other guests in the hotel, not least of all Mavis. First he tries to get him out, then the disguise, and then trying to keep up the charade. It’s Dracula as two parts over-protective dad and one part Basil Fawlty.
As funny as the film is, its characterization is uneven. At one point, some of the other monsters refer to Dracula as a “control freak” who has to look after everything, but it doesn’t come across much in the film. Instead, he’s one of the more relaxed Draculas in film history, even at the start of the film, which goes to great lengths to show him as caring daddy.
Mavis, on the other hand, is an irresistible smart Goth girl. This makes her pairing with Jonathan… well…. Jonathan is a party-lovin’ bro, whose IQ is barely above room temperature. Mavis (and the audience) is supposed to look at Joanathan and feel, “Zing!” Instead, you look at them and wonder:
“What does she see in that guy?”