Archive for Fran Drescher

Hotel Transylvania

Posted in Animation, Family, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 30, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Dracula (Adam Sandler) is the owner and creator of Hotel Transylvania, a five-star resort where the world’s monsters can be safe from human civilization. Dracula invites some of the most famous monsters like Frankenstein (Kevin James) and his wife Eunice (Fran Drescher), Murray the Mummy (Cee Lo Green), Wayne and Wanda Werewolf (Steve Buscemi and Molly Shannon), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), Bigfoot, Steve the Blob, and other monsters to celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez). However, Mavis prefers to explore the outside world with her father’s permission, but the village he directs her to is actually an elaborate deception to convince her of the threat of humans enough to coax her back.

However, this charade inadvertently attracts the attention of an ordinary young traveler named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) who was exploring the surrounding forest and followed the staff to the hotel. Once Jonathan enters the hotel, Dracula frantically attempts to hide him from the patrons such as disguising him as a Flesh Golem named Johnny-stein with the later hasty cover story of being a relative of one of Frank’s body parts. Eventually, Jonathan is discovered by Mavis and company, forcing Dracula to claim he is going to arrange Mavis’ birthday party with a young perspective. In doing so, Jonathan manages to charm everyone at the hotel, especially Mavis. Eventually, even Dracula begins to like the human taking him into his confidence about his family’s traumatic past after the vampire notices the young man knows something about them in a respectful manner.

Unfortunately, Chef Quasimodo Wilson (Jon Lovitz) realizes Jonathan is human and captures him to cook him, forcing Dracula to directly intervene by magically freezing the chef. Eventually, the birthday party happens and it is a raucous success until Dracula freaks out when Mavis and Jonathan have an innocent kiss. A ranting Dracula accidentally lets it slip that he tricked Mavis at the fake village and Mavis is outraged at being manipulated by her own father. Things get worse when a still-frozen Chef Quasimodo interrupts the party as the Fly (Chris Parnell) translates his frozen language to the clientele which states that Jonathan is actually a human. Even as the clientele are revolted, Mavis still accepts and expresses her desire to be with Jonathan even though he is human. For his part, Jonathan feels obliged to reject Mavis for her father’s sake and leaves the hotel. Afterward, Dracula realizes that in his efforts to protect Mavis, he has broken her heart and now she tearfully wants to stay at the hotel forever.

Wishing to undo his mistake, Dracula persuades his friends to help him find Jonathan and even risks his destruction by venturing out in the daylight to do so. Learning that Jonathan is about to board a flight out of Transylvania Airport shortly, they race on and enter a town en route. At that town, Dracula and company are stunned to see the humans having a ‘Monster Festival’. To clear a path, Frankenstein tries to scare them, but finds the humans are cheerfully welcoming them instead and even provide a shaded route through the town for Dracula to proceed at maximum speed.

However, Dracula finds that he is too late with Jonathan’s plane taking off. With no alternative, Dracula desperately flies after it in broad daylight despite being hurt by the sun. With much effort, Dracula manages to reach the plane and resorts to mind-controlling one of the pilots (Brian Stack) to apologize and tell Jonathan that he wants him to return to be with his daughter. Jonathan accepts Dracula’s apology and Dracula manipulates the plane back to the airport.

Later, Dracula returns Jonathan to Mavis, who tells her that she’s his ‘zing’ and the reason why he had to reject her. Dracula gives his blessing to their relationship, Jonathan and Mavis kiss and the hotel has another party to celebrate his daughter’s liberating coming of age before Jonathan and Mavis set off on their travels.

The film ends with Dracula and his friends being shown in traditional animation (in the style of Genndy Tartakovsky’s cartoons) during the credits

REVIEW:

Given the bad rap monsters, especially vampires, werewolves and, to a lesser extent, zombies seem to be getting these days, it is nice to know that someone out there knows and respects their legacies enough to given them a film that isn’t insulting to everything we know about them. Sure, Hotel Transylvania may be a kids film, but there are no sparkling vampires who somehow manage to survive in the daylight here, nor are there any werewolves who do nothing but stalk unattractive emo chicks.

What is this about?

Hotel Transylvania owner Dracula (Adam Sandler) pulls double duty as an overprotective dad when an unwelcome suitor (Andy Samberg) shows interest in his teenage daughter (Selena Gomez). All the while, he’s hosting world-famous monster guests like Frankenstein, his bride and a werewolf family.

What did I like?

The gang’s all here. Pick a monster, any monster, and you’re sure to see them in the film, whether it be in a cameo or major role. I think the only ones missing were the more mythological creatures like minotaurs, centaurs, harpies, and the like, but there is a cyclops and a hydra to make up or fill the void.

Father knows best. For years, Adam Sandler has been trying to do a sensitive dad role and also use that voice he does in all of his films. Finally, all that practice has paid off! Sandler is such an animated person that it takes him being animated to get a truly great performance from him. Ironically, with the exception of that 9/11 dram he did, this is the most subdued character he’s played. That’s a good thing, as I think an insane acting man-child version of Dracula wouldn’t have gone over as well with the audience or with a “teenage” daughter. The relationship with his daughter is the heart of this film. If that didn’t work, then this flick wouldn’t have any legs to stand on.

Animation. Back when Cartoon Network was actually worth watching cartoon on, they had shows like Samurai Jack, Dexter’s Laboratory, and The Powerpuff Girls. All of these were done by the director of this film, Genndy Tartakovsky. I never really noticed it until the final credits were rolling, but the characters do have the design of one of his cartoons. Man, I miss his style of animation. Not to mention cartoons that were actually fun to watch, not just odd.

Dracula. As I mentioned before, Adam Sandler surprisingly gives a really good performance, but what is more impressive is the character design. Most iterations of Dracula are that of a tall, slender man with an imposing presence, not to mention his ability to bend the will the regular human and turn into a bat. The whole moving tables around and freezing people is new, but I like it.

What didn’t I like?

Kids. The kids annoyed the hell out of me. Mavis is fine, she’s just a teenage girl trapped in a castle wanting to get out and see the world. It happens. However, the wolf kids are representative of how unruly and disrespectful children are today. Johnny annoyed me in every way imaginable. First of all, he’s voiced by that no talent hack Andy Samberg, who is nothing more than an Adam Sandler wannabe and is a big reason Saturday Night Live hasn’t been funny for the past few years. This character though just seems to think his way is right, which it isn’t. The way he just walks in to the hotel just wasn’t a good introduction to him and he never recovered in my eyes.

Humans. Aside from John, we have the humans at the monster festival. Now, there is nothing specifically wrong with these people. It is basically just a comic con for people who like monsters. However, the fact that they have little to no reaction to Dracula and his pals is a little disconcerting. On the one hand, they are at a convention where everyone is dressed as monsters, so there is that little bit of disbelief expected. However, on the other hand, these are the real deal! Have we become that disenfranchised and dead to these guys that they are akin to stuffed animals? It sure seems like it. Such a shame, really.

Hotel Transylvania is one of the films that I really wanted to see when it came out, but because of scheduling, I never got around to it. I really do wish I had gotten to see this in theaters. I may have even paid the 3D price. This, along with ParaNorman and from the looks of it Frankenweenie (which I will be getting to soon) could make for some good Halloween movies for kids. Something that we haven’t really had in quite some time. I highly recommend this as it is truly an enjoyable film for everyone. Be on the lookout for the jab at Twilight late in flick. On a final note, does anyone know where it is that we all starting assuming Dracula said, “bleh, bleh”?

5 out of 5 stars

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UHF

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 4, 2009 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

George Newman (Yankovic) is a daydreamer whose hyperactive imagination keeps him from holding a steady job. After his latest firing from “Big Edna’s Burger World,” his uncle Harvey Bilchik (Stanley Brock) wins the deed to Channel 62, a faltering UHF television station, in a poker game. (“With a pair of sevens; I was bluffing.”) Harvey decides to give control of Channel 62 to the unemployed George.

George and his best friend Bob (David Bowe) meet the Channel 62 staff, including receptionist and wannabe reporter Pamela Finklestein (Fran Drescher), midget photojournalist and cameraman Noodles MacIntosh (Billy Barty), eccentric engineer Philo (Anthony Geary), and new janitor Stanley Spadowski (Michael Richards), who was recently fired from rival VHF station Channel 8. Though George creates new shows, including the kid-friendly “Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse” which he hosts, the workload and bad debt of the station get to him. Amid the stress, he forgets his girlfriend Teri’s (Victoria Jackson) birthday, who breaks up with him over the incident. Despondent, George turns “Uncle Nutzy’s Clubhouse” over to Stanley so he and Bob can go out for a drink. Arriving at the bar, they find that all the patrons are excitedly watching Stanley’s antics on Channel 62. Realizing they have a hit on their hands, George and Bob come up with ideas for more shows in Channel 62’s line up, spearheaded by the newly retitled “Stanley Spadowski’s Clubhouse”.

As Channel 62’s popularity grows, tyrannical Channel 8 owner R. J. Fletcher (Kevin McCarthy) becomes furious that a UHF station is getting better ratings than his network’s programming. He learns that Harvey is the owner of the station and has just gambled away a large sum of money. Fletcher makes Harvey the offer of covering his debt in return for ownership of Channel 62, which he would then happily shut down because legally he cannot own two stations in the same town. George learns of the deal and calls his aunt, who forces her husband to hold off, allowing George time to raise the money Harvey owes by selling investment stock in Channel 62 through a telethon.

The telethon starts off successfully, led by Stanley’s boundless energy, but Fletcher sends his goons to kidnap Stanley. Without Stanley, the telethon grinds to a halt. George then leads a group to infiltrate Channel 8 and rescue Stanley. They return in time to successfully finish the telethon just before Harvey’s debt comes due, saving the station and making it a publicly-owned company. Fletcher, on the other hand, finds out that a small bit of charity earlier in the film resulted in Channel 62 making its goal. He also discovers that a slanderous conversation of his regarding the population of the city was secretly recorded and rebroadcasted by Philo and that Channel 8 failed to file paperwork to renew its broadcast license with the FCC, which orders the station off the air. As the film ends, George and Teri rekindle their relationship, while the rest of the employees and fans of Channel 62 celebrate.

Throughout the film, there are cutaway scenes that are comic homages to popular shows of the time, through either George’s imagination or shows specifically for Channel 62. For example, a dream sequence includes a music video for Yankovic’s “Money for Nothing/Beverly Hillbillies*” in both the audio and visual style of the Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing”, and fake commercials for Gandhi 2 and Spatula City are shown throughout the film.

REVIEW:

I remember the days when this came out and cable and satellite TV weren’t these huge money grubbing juggernauts they are these days and more importantly, there was no reality shows! People actually had imagination back then. I wonder what happened to this world! *SIGH*

I wish I could say that I really liked this picture, but truth is, I felt it kind of leveled off and became very humdrum after the exciting opening. If you’ve ever seen any of Weird Al’s videos or even the Saturday morning TV show he had, then you know he has quite the vivid imagination and some may even go so far as to say he has the mind of child. I was expecting some of this to come through in the film, and it did in some of the commercials and whatnot, but as far as the actual film went…well, let’s just say, there’s a reason he doesn’t get more acting jobs.

Michael Richards becomes a breakout star of the station when he is asked to fill in. Conversely, he is the breakout star of this film. The exuberance and enthusiasm he displays as well as comic timing and innocence really make his character a viewer favorite.

I had the hugest crush on Victoria Jackson when she was on Saturday Night Live. Since then she has lost some of that lustre for me, but watching this I remember why I had those feelings for her.

Fran Dreshcer also makes an appearance here, but she isn’t that memorable. However, I do think it was a good start for her career and led to bigger things.

The cast is pretty good, so is the story, but I just think if you’re going to make picture like this, then go deeper into the shows. What I mean by that is show more commercials and clips from what they’re showing interspersed with the actual story. If they would have done that, I’d probably be a bigger  fan of this film, but as it is, I just felt this was an average picture.

3 out of 5 stars