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Originally published Thursday, September 27, 2012 at 3:02 PM

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'Hotel Transylvania': a cute monster mash with 'SNL' vets in cast

A movie review of "Hotel Transylvania," with Adam Sandler leading a vocal cast heavy with fellow "Saturday Night Live" veterans. The cute but disposable 3D animated comedy is about a hotel for monsters undone by the arrival of a young human backpacker (Andy Samberg).

Special to The Seattle Times

Movie review 2.5 stars

'Hotel Transylvania,' with Adam Sandler, Jon Lovitz, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Chris Parnell, Molly Shannon, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James, David Spade. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, from a screenplay by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel, based on a story by Dan Hageman, Kevin Hageman and Todd Durham. 83 minutes. Rated PG for some rude humor, action and scary images. Several theaters.

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There's a veritable mafia of "Saturday Night Live" alumni involved with the 3D animated "Hotel Transylvania." The vocal cast alone is a Who's Who of "SNL" veterans including Adam Sandler as Count Dracula, Jon Lovitz as Quasimodo, Chris Parnell as an aristocratic fly, Andy Samberg as the lone human in a resort full of vacationing monsters, Molly Shannon as a she-werewolf and David Spade as a creature named Griffin.

There's also co-screenwriter Robert Smigel, creator of "SNL's" bitingly satiric "TV Funhouse" cartoons. Yet there's nothing of the classic "SNL" spirit here, nothing acerbic or especially ironic except the film's cute central premise: Famous monsters of old need a place to hide away from scary people.

Sandler delivers his best performance in a long time as the voice of Dracula, a misunderstood and overly protective father to his teen vampire daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). Following the brutal killing of Mrs. Dracula by a mob of pitchfork-wielding humans, the old bloodsucker has built a hidden, high-end getaway for pals like Frankenstein (Kevin James) and the Wolfman (Steve Buscemi).

The story revolves around a landmark birthday for Mavis, whose restless desire to see the world has Dracula worried. All of Drac's plans to trick her into staying at home forever are undone by the unexpected arrival of backpacking human dude Jonathan (Samberg), who gets into a reverse "Twilight" thing with Mavis.

There's much to enjoy here in a disposable way, particularly jokes about monsters having ordinary problems with kids and spouses. The film's best laugh, however, concerns the changed status of vampires, werewolves, etc., in a Comic-Con world. In a culture catering to the nerd in all of us, how can classic monsters be anything but revered?

Tom Keogh: tomwkeogh@gmail.com

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