Last summer, when Sony Animation announced that TV veteran Genndy Tartakovsky would take over the reins of its animated feature about a resort for monsters, fans unanimously took a deep breath of relief. Now, after spending many years in development and going through many changes, fans can check in to Hotel Transylvania this month and take in the first theatrical effort by the man who brought them TV gems such as Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and Star Wars: Clone Wars.
The high-spirited adventure is centered on a special weekend, during which legendary monster Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) has invited some of his best buddies (Frankenstein, the Mummy, the Invisible Man, the Werewolf family, etc.) to his beloved daughter Mavis’s (Selena Gomez) 118th birthday. Complications arise when a regular guy (Andy Samberg) accidentally finds his way to this freakish hotel and a romantic subplot develops between him and Mavis.
Tartakovsky talked about the pleasures and particular challenges of delving into this strange yet familiar universe during a special presentation on the Sony Animation campus in Culver City, Calif.
The word that pops up again and again during our conversation is “cartoony.” Tartakovsky points out that for some reason, people who work in features seem to be afraid of the actual “cartoony” nature of the art form.
To get in the right frame of mind, the seasoned toon master went back to some of the classic black-and-white monster movies; especially Todd Browning’s 1931 Dracula, which put Bela Lugosi on the map.
The Sony animation team helped Genndy realize his vision by pushing the CG models into a new caricatured realm.
Perhaps that’s why Tartakovsky feels comfortable working in this particular CG universe. He says the movie feels very hand-drawn to him and is surprised by how much he was able to push the parameters.
Although the director misses working in the 2D world, he says he is definitely enjoying adding his classic sensibilities to the CG universe.
In addition to being able to work on a bigger scale and telling a more complex story, the feature world has another big advantage for the director.
Comparing the experience to working on his own Cartoon Network series, Tartakovsky says directing a movie with a pre-existing world and characters has been a completely different animal.
Now that the monsters have been unleashed and his first theatrical experience is behind him, Tartakovsky has several other hot projects to keep him busy. Sony announced in June that the Moscow-born helmer will also be directing the studio’s upcoming 3D version of E.C. Segar’s classic toon, Popeye. Fans are also keeping alive the hope of a feature version of his cult hit Samurai Jack.
No matter where his career will take him, one thing is sure: We won’t be seeing the same-old cookie-cutter movies when Genndy is at the helm.