"Hotel Transylvania," a 3-D animated feature in which Count Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) manages a resort for persecuted monsters, feels like a string of jokes without a story. That might be better than the other way around, but this Sony Pictures Animation production ends up feeling less like a children's movie and more like a disposable summer comedy.
Maybe that's to be expected, since the cast features Sandler's usual comedic troupe, including the voices of Kevin James as Frankenstein, David Spade as the invisible Griffin and Jon Lovitz as Quasimodo. (It's also co-written by Robert Smigel, a longtime contributor to "Late Night With Conan O'Brien" who created Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog.) The gags come fast and furious from this group, but the laughs are hit and miss.
The idea has potential: In addition to running his hotel, Dracula hovers over Mavis, his "teenage" daughter (make that 118), played by Selena Gomez. She wants to see the world, but Dracula wants to keep her safe from torch-waving humans. That's precisely why misunderstood monsters like Wayne and Wanda Werewolf (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon) and the oversized Fly (a droll Chris Parnell) come to Dracula's dimly lit haven. But things get complicated when a young human backpacker, Jonathan (Andy Samberg), stumbles in and locks eyes with Mavis.
The narrative zigs and zags frantically (as does Genndy Tartakovsky's directing) to make room for the gags: Frankenstein pops his seams, the Invisible Man loses at charades and Dracula debunks various myths ("I do not go 'bleh-bleh-bleh' "). There are moments of emotion -- Sandler and Samberg have an audible chemistry, and Gomez gives Mavis a feisty personality -- but they're few and far between. "Hotel Transylvania" aims for your funny bone more often than your heart, and ends up missing both.
PLOT Count Dracula's quiet getaway for persecuted monsters is disrupted by a human visitor.
RATING PG (some crude humor)
BOTTOM LINE Plenty of meta-jokes about monsters and vampires, but not much in the way of character or story. Occasionally amusing, completely forgettable.