Hotel Transylvania

Movie review by
Sandie Angulo Chen, Common Sense Media
Hotel Transylvania Movie Poster Image
Father-daughter comedy works as intro to monster movies.
  • PG
  • 2012
  • 92 minutes
Parents recommendPopular with kids

Parents say

age 6+
Based on 33 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 47 reviews

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Educational value

Kids just being introduced to "horror" movies will meet some iconic genre characters.

Positive messages

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 & representations

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.

Sexy stuff

Lots of googly eyes and flirtation between Mavis and Jonathan, who eventually kiss. Some mild innuendo.


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.


No product placements in the movie, but there are real-life promotional/product tie-ins.

Drinking, drugs & smoking

What 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!).

User Reviews

Parent Written bycourtwork April 5, 2013

Cute and entertaining with one small caveat

This movie is cute and entertaining for kids and parents. The humor is typical of Adam Sandler and crew (Kevin James, David Spade et al) toned down for this a... Continue reading
Parent of a 8 year old Written bycaribbeandream October 10, 2012

Sweet and funny Halloween-themed movie

I think they could have toned down the potty humor a bit (and written off about 11 of the dozen or so werewolf kids) but overall this was a clean family movie.... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byJoeyakers October 2, 2012

Exceptionally great for kids, if they won't get scared by MILD scenes.

It is something you need to take your kids to IMMEDIATELY! Except for some name-calling and some scary Dracula rage scenes, the movie is exceptionally fine for... Continue reading
Kid, 8 years old September 28, 2012

5 stars!!!!!!!!

Awesome movie!!! I'm going to see it!!!

What's the story?

More than a century ago, a grieving Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) decided to build a human-proof castle called HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA, where monsters could stay and -- more important -- he could raise his half-vampire, half-human daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) without exposing her to the danger of humans. Fast forward to the present day, and Mavis is turning 118 (but looks 18), and "Drac" has planned a huge birthday celebration. As the hotel fills with Mavis' many monster aunties and uncles -- like werewolf Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Frankenstein (Kevin James), Mummy Griffin (Cee-Lo Green), and the Invisible Man (David Spade) -- an unexpected visitor arrives in the form of 21-year-old Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a solo backpacker who somehow stumbles across the supposedly untraceable castle. Not wanting to alarm his guests, Drac puts Jonathan in costume and forces him to pretend that he's Frankenstein's younger cousin. What Dracula doesn't count on is Mavis and Jonathan falling for each other.

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.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about who Hotel Transylvania is intended for. It's about monsters that have been in many horror movies, but it's not as scary as some other animated movies. How are the monsters kid-friendly?

  • Can you think of other movies that feature an overprotective father? How does Hotel Transylvania compare?

  • Why are monster movies popular? Why is it sometimes fun to be scared?

Movie details

Themes & Topics

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