When Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez), daughter of the widowed Count Dracula, or “Drack” (voice of Adam Sandler), comes of age at 118, she wants to go beyond the human-free resort for monsters that her father built to protect her. As their friends gather to celebrate Mavis’ birthday, Drack builds a fake village and disguises zombies as humans so Mavis will return home convinced that people are mean.
A hiker named Jonathan (voice of Andy Samberg) stumbles upon the hotel and meets Mavis. Drack tells one of his monster pals that a father must do everything to protect his child, even if it means lying. Of course, this becomes his undoing.
The moral of this 3-D animated comedy, aimed at the entire family for Halloween, is for parents: don’t lie to your kids because it will come back to haunt you! Drack thinks he’s protecting his daughter out of love, but we find out there is a good dose of fear as well. He is afraid of how humans will react when they find out that she is a vampire.
Hotel Transylvania is entertaining for kids under 10, and I heard some adults laughing at the screening I attended. Though all the characters are likable, there’s nothing new in yet another too-long, Hollywood-animated feature predicated on a deceased mother and an anxiety-riddled father.
A-2, PG ■ Rude humor, action that may frighten the very young.
Trouble with the Curve
This small movie is about the relationship between a grumpy, growling, aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves, Gus (Clint Eastwood), and his lawyer-daughter Mickey (Amy Adams). When Gus’ friend Pete (John Goodman) alerts Mickey to Gus’ eyesight problems, she joins her dad to scout players in North Carolina, jeopardizing her promotion to partner at her law firm.
Father and daughter spar, but they love each other—and the game—even though Mickey, named for Mickey Mantle, has abandonment issues. When Mickey was 6, her mother died, and Gus sent her to live with relatives for a year and then to boarding school.
One of Gus’ protégés, Johnny (Justin Timberlake), is retired because of injuries and is now a scout for the Boston Red Sox. He arrives at the local ballpark because all the teams are looking at a promising player. Johnny finds himself attracted to Mickey, who turns out to be a pretty good scout herself.
Director Robert Lorenz has been a crew member on several of Eastwood’s films, and first-time writer Randy Brown keeps the story uncomplicated. The plot is predictable because some of the camera shots and closeups signal what’s going to happen. Even so, the film hums along and never tries to be more than it is.
A-3, PG-13 ■ Mild language, some sexual references.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
It’s 1991 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. High school freshman Charlie (Logan Lerman) is shy, quiet, and anxious as school starts—afraid the other kids will know he has spent time in a hospital. When Patrick (Ezra Miller), a senior who’s gay, finds out that Charlie’s best friend committed suicide recently, he recognizes a wounded soul and brings Charlie into a small group of wallflower friends who are different for one reason or another: Sam (Emma Watson), Patrick’s stepsister and companion, and Mary Elizabeth (Mae Whitman), a vegan Buddhist.
The friends party a lot—from acting in a production of The Rocky Horror Picture Show to smoking pot. Charlie is captivated by his friends’ love for music, especially when they drive their truck through a tunnel at night to blaring music and Sam stands and reaches for the stars. Music becomes the way Charlie communicates his feelings.
Charlie’s family is attentive to him, but his mom (Kate Walsh) and dad (Dylan McDermott) only realize the source of his mental problems when he has a breakdown at the end of the year. It is a moment of grace for Charlie—a rebirth.
Stephen Chbosky wrote and directed the film, based on his novel of the same name. The actors excel and infuse The Perks of Being a Wallflower with so much heart and soul. The film shows how brave teens can be when faced with terrible odds and how important friends are. It does so without excluding parents, as so many of these stories often do.
Not yet rated, PG-13 ■ Mature themes including child sex abuse, domestic violence, drug use, and alcohol.