In this comedy’s universe, Dracula isn’t nocturnal and doesn’t crave mammalian blood, which rather negates the concept. But he is a longtime widower, despondent and lonely. We learn this when he looks for love on Tinder — yikes! don’t tell the kids; this is a PG-13 outing — and only swipes left.
His daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), misdiagnoses the problem and decides that what the Drac Pac needs is a relaxing vacation. She books the whole monster crew on a cruise that launches, of course, from the Bermuda Triangle.
There are further plot developments involving romantic love (“zings”) and danger, but the point is to watch the Transylvanians cavort and dance to music provided by Drac’s son-in-law, a human DJ named Jonathan (okay, Andy Samberg).
Other cast members of note are these:
–Frank-enstein (Kevin James of “Mall Cop” fame) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher),
— Werewolf Wane, the exhausted family guy (Steve Buscemi),
— Dracula’s crotchety father, Vlad (Mel Brooks),
— Murray the Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key of the comedy team Key and Peele),
— Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade),
— and Captain Ericka (Kathryn Hahn), who “zings” Drac but who may not be what she seems.
The music and animated character movements are done well and are delightful to watch. They also react to old pop music, including everything from “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” to “24K Magic,” which perhaps is there to make the whole project appeal not to young movie-goers but rather their parents and babysitters.
This is clever and fun for the grownups, but it is worth asking whether kids’ movies now are pitched to the adults who buy tickets and not the presumed audience.
The pace, like everything pitched to children now, is frenetic. And it is well done, relative to the genre. Still, the associated product promotions include plastic character sets, stuffed animals, McDonalds’ Happy Meal promotions and even a birthday-party set of tchotchkes for children as young as three years old. All seem to have been negotiated by Sony, whose marketing is subtle and subdued compared to that of Disney.
The movie was the top seller over the weekend, trouncing a flawed Dwayne Johnson pic. Profits are expected to be even greater after its release in European and Chinese markets.
I had a nice time watching the film, but I didn’t hear a lot of laughter from the children in the audience. Fun as it was, it’s tempting to wonder whether entertaining them was the point.