Adam Sandler should be heard and not seen.
After more failures than a crew of NFL replacement officials, Sandler has finally found success as the voice of Dracula in the new animated feature "Hotel Transylvania." This isn't a monster hit, but compared to "Jack and Jill" it's a macabre masterpiece.
Dracula has created a hotel for monsters that he believes is completely hidden from the human world. His main motivation for the creepiest lodging this side of "Psycho" is his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez). Dracula promised his wife that he would keep their daughter safe, but that's getting more difficult now that she's 118 and ready to see the world.
His efforts to keep her from being exposed to outside influences is given a stake to the heart when the too-cool Jonathan (Andy Samberg) wanders into the lobby. Dracula tries to keep the other guests from knowing humans have found their horror haven while dealing with his daughter's restless spirit.
The screenplay by Peter Baynham and Robert Smigel doesn't cover any new ground with the jokes that have been around since "The Addams Family." It's the work of the voice talent that gives the writing life and energy.
As a werewolf dad with too many werepups in his life, all Steve Buscemi has to do is say one line to get a laugh because his voice already has a creepy tone.
Fran Drescher's unique voice also works as Frankenstein's nagging other half, while the big surprise is CeeLo Green as a hip mummy.
The rest of the voice talents are good, but not memorable. Gomez sounds a lot like Reese Witherspoon and Kevin James' vocals as Frankenstein come across as a poor man's Seth Rogen.
The computer-generated animation from director Genndy Tartakovsky is safe, with the more interesting characters being relegated to the background. From the hotel to the local village, the film is visually fine. But it doesn't paint a grand picture. That's a disappointment considering the inspired animation Tartakovsky used to create "Dexter's Laboratory."
The so-so animation is made worse by a bland 3D that darkens more than delivers depth.
Except for a victory for Sandler, there's nothing great about "Hotel Transylvania." But there's also nothing really wrong with the film. It's a lot like the Invisible Man voiced by David Spade in the film: There's something there, but when you look closely, there's not a lot of substance.
"Hotel Transylvania," rated PG for rude humor, scary images. Stars voices of Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Steve Buscemi, Kevin James. Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Running time: 91 minutes. Grade: C+ Theaters and times for this movie | Other movie reviews
TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at (559) 441-6355, firstname.lastname@example.org
or @RickBentley1 on Twitter. Read his blog at fresnobeehive.com.