Hotel Transylvania Vs Ruby Sparks; The Critic Compares Love Lessons


I haven’t written a review for a while so I decided to give myself the challenge of comparing to very different films which Bear and I actually saw in the space of 4 hours. The reason I’m doing it this way is because I found myself comparing the ideas and despite the dramatic contrasts between the two films, they actually together made for a nice ending.

Firstly, boy meets girl. They fall in love. Interesting…

Both films were, of course, a little surreal: when you encounter vampire-human relations (without the stupidity of the series-that-shall-not-be-named), and then a boy who creates his girlfriend (in a non-Frankenstein’s-monster way), it’s going to be a little odd from the start. The similarities were interesting though: the “zing” moment of love at first sight happened both for Jonathan (Andy Samberg) & Mavis (Selena Gomez), and Calvin (Paul Dano) & Ruby(Zoe Kazan) albeit in Calvin’s dream. From a spark of a moment the entire story is set.

Is it possible our post-modernity has circled back into believing, or at the very least hoping for, love at first sight? With so many films, media and recent business ideas fixed on the idea that love doesn’t last, that we can’t ever be monogamous, and it’s probably not worth trying, I was surprised to see such a pure, innocent idea.


Secondly, control in a relationship. Obvious!

Whether it be a guy trying to create, and then recreate, his perfect girlfriend, or a Father being protective, control is  so clearly not a good idea. I sadly sighed as I saw both situations happening. I understood the motives, the justifications, but still it was a slippery slope into deception, power struggles and eventual breakdown of a relationship.

Every parent has likely at least had ideas about how to keep their children safe, and continuously worried for their safety long after they have left home and grown up (not always in that order). The problem comes when lies are created to convince one person that the other is right. The lies will always fall down and the trust is destroyed by the attempt. Even if the parent does succeed, they get to watch a miserable child lose faith in their own abilities/self/dreams, which can be even more painful than watching a child leave.

The contrast in Ruby Sparks was the climatic point where Calvin strays too far into the editing process. It is cringe-worthy and disturbing, but definitely makes you think about how often people attempt to change their partners, complain about the little things. If someone is independent, we might feel you would want them more attached; if they are too clingy you want them to have their own space. We are rarely completely happy about the people we have, and maybe we should start appreciating them a little more for who they are.

Control does not a good relationship make.

Thirdly, selflessness as a means to save love.

It is a well-known phrase that says “if you love them you let them go”; the even lesser known ending is that they might, might, come back to you. Hotel Transylvania has two powerful examples of this: pushing Mavis away to appease her father and protect her, and then her father literally burning out of love for his daughter as he tries to fix things. In echo, Ruby Sparks is given the same treatment, freed so she might be her own creation, rather than Calvin’s.

Both of these didn’t expect a reunion, they didn’t plan it that they would let go of their love only to get it back, they freed their love out of love. It is this selfless act that renews a respect you might hold for them as you watch the story unravel. It is not only the love between the characters, but in part a love for the audience that allows the writer to halt the downwards spiral the character is on. No matter how deep and philosophical a story is, the viewer will always have some feelings towards the hero/ine. I didn’t want to watch this character fail. By renewing a little humanity, a little morality, the tension is released. The power snaps and we can breathe again.



Both these films, one more obviously than the other, contain a question mark over the end. Whilst we can see Jonathan and Mavis happy and in love, ready to explore the world, our experience with pop-culture vampires forces us to ask: can a 21 year old and a 118 year old really make it? Will Jonathan eventually get bitten? Will Mavis have to watch old age take him and then find another newer zing-love? Twilight may have tried to put the romance into vampires but the truth (and I say that in the loosest sense) is that in that relationship one must die (even to resurrect or whatever).

As for Calvin and Ruby, I was honestly still not completely over the abuse caused by Calvin, I found it far harder to stop the questions coming: If he knows it was tempting last time, surely he’ll do it again? If she doesn’t know him but he easily knows her, can there ever be a fresh start? Isn’t it a little bit too close to taking advantage? Again the question mark, no answer, no clear statement about where this could go.

But that’s OK… as long as the producers don’t just want more money and make a crappy-sequel. Just sayin’.

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