Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: Trouble With the Curve vs. Hotel Transylvania, two films that transcend genre to showcase the complexities of father-daughter relationships.
PremiseTrouble With the Curve is a sports drama starring Clint Eastwood (in his first return to the silver screen without a directorial credit since In The Line of Fire) as Gus, an aging baseball scout for the Atlanta Braves who is losing not only his vision, but also potentially his career, as technology threatens its necessity. Gus’ boss, Pete (John Goodman) convinces Mickey (Amy Adams), the scout’s estranged daughter, to accompany her father on a crucial recruitment trip to babysit him (and maybe establish a relationship). Hotel Transylvania, an animated 3D film, focuses on another father-daughter duo. Dracula (Adam Sandler) owns the Hotel Transylvania, a high-end resort for monsters to escape humans, but his teenage daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) longs to break free from the strict confines of the hotel.Advantage: Trouble With the Curve
FathersGus is a gravelly, cigar-smoking curmudgeon who has a complicated relationship with furniture, which is not much of a digression from the actor playing the role; however, as Gus’ character finally unravels, we learn that he still hasn’t come to terms with his wife’s death, his burgeoning glaucoma, or abandoning Mickey. Conversely, Dracula is a doting, albeit overprotective father from the moment Mavis is born, but his domineering ways are more creepy than endearing. Also, Adam Sandler’s Transylvanian accent is not very different from his Billy Madison, which worked as Billy, but not so much as a vampire dad. We’d much prefer Gus, who isn’t perfect, but seems to evolve for the better by the end of the movie (according to the trailer). Also, when a drunkard gropes his daughter at a bar, Gus shoves him up against the wall.Advantage: Trouble With the Curve
DaughtersMickey is a high-powered attorney looking to restore her relationship with Gus, which she attempts by returning to her tomboy roots—which evidently include plenty of ponytails and flannel, as well as a role reversal as she becomes a parent-like figure to her aging father. But our sympathies are with Mavis, whose only fault is an overbearing dad who holds his daughter hostage in his monster refuge.Advantage: Hotel Transylvania
Love InterestThroughout their road trip, Gus and Mickey run into Johnny (Justin Timberlake), whom Gus recruited years ago and who now has his sights set on Mickey. Justin Timberlake even dances, so in this battle of Saturday Night Live‘s most eligible bachelors, computer-animated Jonathan (Andy Samberg) is no competition. From the moment Jonathan—a 21-year-old human backpacker—stumbles upon the Hotel Transylvania, Dracula does everything in his power to keep him away from Mavis. But when sparks fly, Jonathan and Mavis are quick to disregard Dracula’s wishes in this vampire falls for mortal tale.Advantage: Trouble With the Curve
LaughsThough light on the laughs (it is a sports drama), Gus has a distinct black humor that’s evident in the Trouble With the Curve trailer. He spews cynical one-liners that, when delivered with Clint Eastwood’s signature deadpan expression, are admittedly funny. We’d expect much more from Hotel Transylvania that boasts of a supporting cast, including (the voices of) Jon Lovitz, Fran Drescher, Steve Buscemi, Molly Shannon, Kevin James, Mindy Kaling, Chris Parnell, and David Spade. But for a viewer a bit older than the target audience, the humor in Hotel Transylvania is derived more from the subtleties, such as the parallelism between the monster world and the human world, rather than Adam Sandler’s cheap songs or a clumsy Frankenstein doing a belly flop. Still, we’ll give them the benefit of the doubt here. Advantage: Hotel Transylvania
The VerdictWe were pulling for Hotel Transylvania. Really, we were. On paper, an animated film relying on the familiar voices of Saturday nights past seemed like a great idea. But until that actually becomes more than just a great idea, we’ll choose the tried-and-true Hallmark sports drama with no shortage of feel-good baseball metaphors for life.Winner: Trouble With the Curve
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