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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Kids just being introduced to "horror" movies will meet some iconic genre characters.
Sweet messages about a father's love for his daughter and his promise to her (and his deceased wife) that he'll keep her safe at all costs. The idea that parents need to eventually step back and let their kids grow up, take risks, and find adventure is the main theme of the story.
Positive Role Models
Jonathan is an adventurous spirit who learns to see beyond the monsters' freaky/creepy exteriors and discover that they're pretty cool. He encourages Mavis to travel and find her own way in the world. The monsters -- with the exception of Dracula -- can see that Jonathan's a great guy. Mavis, despite being holed up at the hotel, is a well-loved daughter and "niece" to all of her parents' dearest associates. Dracula is a protective, loving father who just wants to keep Mavis safe.
Violence & Scariness
Dracula has a frightening face that he flashes whenever he can't control his anger. It's definitely the scariest thing in the movie except for the mob scene when the zombies dressed as humans try to torch Mavis. Instead, they catch fire, but the audience knows it's not really humans. The monsters at the hotel aren't really scary. There is a flashback to when humans attacked Dracula and his wife, which resulted in her death. The mother's absence is mentioned frequently, but handled delicately.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Lots of googly eyes and flirtation between Mavis and Jonathan, who eventually kiss. Some mild innuendo.
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Insults like "idiot," "shut up," "jerk," "stupid," plus scatological jokes about all of the "poop"/"waste"/"filth" that Wanda and Wayne's werewolf kids make.
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Products & Purchases
No product placements in the movie, but there are real-life promotional/product tie-ins.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Hotel Transylvania is a good introductory "monster movie" for little kids -- the monsters are tame, and the story focuses on Dracula and his daughter as she comes of age (118!). The only potentially frightening elements are Dracula's "angry face," which he flashes when he can't control his rage (it only lasts a few seconds, but it's a bit demonic looking), and a mob scene that puts a central character in danger. There's also a backstory that involves humans killing the main character's mother, but it's handled delicately. Language includes insults/rude words like "stupid" and "shut up," and there's some innuendo, flirting, and a quick kiss between a 118-year-old vampire hybrid and a 21-year-old guy (hey, it worked in Twilight!). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Although its premise is much better than the execution, this movie is just palatable enough to tolerate for parents. Little kids too young for the genuine spookiness of Monster House and ParaNorman will particularly enjoy how harmless the monsters are (save for Dracula's occasional rage face) and how sweet the relationship is between Dracula and his daddy's girl, Mavis. Gomez is well-cast as a naive adolescent daughter who just wants a chance to discover the world beyond the hotel, and Samberg is like a young Sandler as the bumbling-but-sweet human who ends up stealing not only Mavis' heart but befriending an entire circle of monster pals.
That's not to say that there aren't some issues with Hotel Transylvania; a Pixar masterpiece it's not. The word "zing" (as in the romantic spark between couples) quickly becomes tedious, as do some of the repetitive jokes about the werewolf cubs' poop and the Bride of Frankenstein's hen-pecking (she's voiced by Fran Drescher, of course). But despite the tiny missteps, kids -- and they, after all, are the movie's target audience -- will relate to Mavis, laugh at Dracula and his friends, and be completely invested in this monster mash of an animated comedy.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.