The first feature by Cartoon Network auteur Genndy Tartakovsky (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack) is a two-headed monster — part idiosyncratic romp, part pro forma studio product. Tartakovsky, the sixth director on Sony’s breech-birthed baby, is at his best in Hotel Transylvania’s frenzied opening set piece, as vacationing monsters pour into the human-safe hotel run by Adam Sandler’s Dracula, here a mild-mannered dad desperate to keep his 100-and-teenage daughter (Selena Gomez) from venturing into the world. As werewolves collide with mummies, narrowly dodging Bigfoot — represented, of course, as a giant foot — the movie pinwheels through 3D space, gloriously free from the coming-of-age plot that eventually straitjackets it.
The script, credited to five writers (including Robert Smigel — no wonder Drac sounds like Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), is a jumbled affair, best when it’s riffing out zingers, worst when it’s dragged, zombie-like, back to the by-the-numbers storyline. It’s not a satisfying whole, but parts are sheer delight. Think of it as the product of Tex Avery and Dr. Frankenstein.