Hotel Transylvania



Father-daughter comedy works as intro to monster movies.
Parents recommendPopular with kids
  • Review Date: September 25, 2012
  • Rated: PG
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 2012
  • Running Time: 92 minutes

What parents need to know

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

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
Not applicable

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!).

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, Hotel Transylvania 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.

Families can talk 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

Theatrical release date:September 28, 2012
DVD release date:January 29, 2013
Cast:Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Kevin James
Director:Genndy Tartakovsky
Studio:Sony Pictures Animation
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Monsters, ghosts, and vampires
Run time:92 minutes
MPAA rating:PG
MPAA explanation:some rude humor, action and scary images

This review of Hotel Transylvania was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 6 and 10 year old Written byb080170e September 29, 2012


I thought this movie was adorable. I laughed as much or more than my 10 year old. My 6 year old was not scared a bit (she's hard to scare) but I think many of the jokes went over her head and she wasn't able to enjoy the jokes as much as an older child. Adorable movie. I'm generally very strict with what I allow my children to watch and I thought this movie was very cute.
What other families should know
Great messages
Adult Written bydbphunter September 30, 2012

See this movie!

It is the best cartoon movie for families that we have watched in a few years. Usually there is something inappropriate, but this cartoon is both sweet and funny. I am sorry that so few people rated it highly. So much better than the last cartoon (recently in Sept.) we watched. I can't remember the name Abnorman or something like that..was perfectly awful.
Kid, 8 years old September 28, 2012

5 stars!!!!!!!!

Awesome movie!!! I'm going to see it!!!
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Too much consumerism


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