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Hotel Transylvania

Adam Shaw
Source: Catholic News Service

Animated characters Dracula, voiced by Adam Sandler, and Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez, are seen in the movie "Hotel Transylvania."
We are used to fables of humans fleeing from spooky ghouls and ghosts, but what if they were as scared of us as we are of them?

That is the premise of animated comedy "Hotel Transylvania" (Columbia) -- an enjoyable, if slightly rude, pro-family romp in which the infamous Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) has established a "monsters only" resort to provide a safe haven for spooks to relax away from the torches and pitchforks of their antagonists.

In the midst of running the popular getaway, Drac invites his fellow fiends over to celebrate his headstrong daughter Mavis' (voice of Selena Gomez) 118th birthday.

The (relatively) young Mavis, however, has other things on her mind and wants to escape the confines of the hotel and explore the outside world. Yet her father, having lost his wife many years before, is keen to protect her from being contaminated from the mortal world, going so far as lying to make her believe that humans are nothing but evil ne'er-do-wells.

So when skateboarding backpacker Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel by accident, the birthday girl's interest is heightened and the caped protagonist must scramble to hide Jonathan's humanity from both his guests and his intrigued offspring.

Director Genndy Tartakovsky's goofy comedy gets many of its laughs from playing on, and updating, classic horror characters. So we have a loveable working class Frankenstein (voice of Kevin James) and the overworked data processing werewolf Wayne (voiced by Steve Buscemi) who is being constantly nagged by his 50 children. Unfortunately, in spite of these clever twists, the picture dips its toes into the swamp of vulgarity a few times along the way to pick up a few easy laughs.

Yet while Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel's screenplay has its fair share of mildly rude flatulent humor, it also contains a striking pro-family theme in Dracula's touching relationships with his daughter, and his deceased wife over whom he is still grieving. Therefore amid the silliness come some very moving moments that will have Catholic viewers nodding in approval, as well as a conclusion that affirms the value of the family unit.

However, scary incidents that include zombies skulking around on fire, along with some mildly upsetting moments and the aforementioned gross humor, may exclude younger audiences from the party.

The film contains occasional mild scatological humor and a few scary scenes. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II—adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG—parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.

Adam Shaw is a guest reviewer for Catholic News Service.

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.


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