Adam Sandler heads a collection of familiar pals and “Saturday Night Live” talent as Dracula. (The writers include “TV Funhouse” creator Robert Smigel, who you’d guess had a hand in the movie’s punchier laughs.) The classic-horror icon is presented here as a widowed, fretful father who’s less concerned with drinking humans’ blood (“so fatty”) than with steering clear of our whole torch-wielding, mob-forming species. He builds his castle/monster resort as an elaborate means for insulating his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), from humanity — which works until she hits her 118th birthday, and yearns to bid sheltered adolescence goodbye. Sure, it’s always nice getting together to celebrate with Frankenstein (Kevin James), the cub-beleaguered Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), and other family friends, but Mavis wants to see the world.
Enter Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a mellow-dude backpacker who stumbles across the hotel, prompting Dracula to hurry him into a Frankenstein disguise before the regular clientele freaks out. (Jonathan’s slyly scripted reaction: “That’s kinda racist.”) But, to the Count’s chagrin, Mavis is smitten. Monstrous complications ensue.
Some might say there isn’t enough that’s fresh here to recommend the movie in a big way, except that every generation of trick-or-treaters deserves its monster mash. A blue-skinned Frankenstein? Um, OK — but what else? And director Genndy Tartakovsky (“The Powerpuff Girls”), shifting from TV to features, seems to miss an opportunity for some goth-girl riffing with Mavis. Still, the movie maintains very likable energy throughout, and little touches add up: those smartly scripted bits, finding a workable excuse to toss in Sandler’s ukulele playing, giving us a Dracula’s daughter with freckles . . . It makes the character seem downright — yikes! — human.