Hotel Transylvania – Father Figure – Review

As I have thought about places where Hotel Transylvania would connect with the Bible in some way, I came away with two very different approaches.  One was to use the movie as an opportunity to look at how God feels about prejudices.  (Read article here.)

The other approach I saw to to take a look at Dracula as a father and compare him to God as a Father.  The truth is that we are often hard pressed to separate our ideas about our earthly fathers from our ideas about the Heavenly Father.  Although Drac is well-intentioned, his methods are deplorable at times (which, to be fair, is probably a pretty accurate statement of most parents).   A discussion about some of his choices as a parent can provide an easy segue into how someone thinks about God.    

Movie background:  Hotel Transylvania takes a comical look at our stereo types, fears and misguided attempts to protect our children.  All the funnier because it tells its story from an unexpected point of view:  the monsters’.  The poor monsters that mankind, in his fear, persecuted in times past (such as Dracula, Frankenstein, Big Foot, Werewolves, etc.), have all now bonded together, isolating themselves from the cruel human world. 

Dracula lost his wife to a human mob and is now determined to protect his daughter, Mavis, through any means necessary, from any interaction with humans.  Then a clueless but likeable human boy, Johnny, stumbled into the monsters’ hotel retreat.  Of course, he and Mavis fell in love and Dracula and his monster friends overcame their prejudices.

Dracula said that, “As a father, you do everything you can to protect your family, even if it means breaking their trust.”  To that point, in his desire to protect Mavis from harm from the humans, he staged an elaborate lie to prove his point.  He created a little town nearby and encouraged her to go see what man was really like.  She went to the little town and found that the humans were just as horrible as her father had said—a mob came after her in a crazed rage with pitchforks and torches.  The only hitch:  it wasn’t real; it was all a set up.  The people were just Drac’s zombie staff acting out his play. 

Drac’s point was to protect her.  The problem is, in the end, we find out that not only did Dracula intentionally deceive his daughter, but that she didn’t really need his protection after all—Dracula was wrong.  People had changed and were not the dangerous threat to Mavis he thought they were.  The FAR bigger problem is that so many people in real life today feel that God is just as ridiculous and outdated and twisted in His methods as Dracula was in Hotel Transylvania. 

People feel that God cannot be trusted.  They also feel that his laws are obsolete.  Even in the church, which is presumably filled with people who trust God, are people who only choose to follow some of God’s laws because they don’t think He knows best about all of it.  They don’t actually believe that God designed life and really knows how to live it to the full. They assume that his laws are robbing them of some good thing, rather than protecting them that they may enjoy ALL good things, to the FULL.   (If you remember, this was the same kind of thinking that got Adam and Eve into trouble in the first place.)

Drac was completely wrong to think that being a father meant that he had a license to do whatever necessary to protect his daughter.  In fact, he was wrong to think that protecting his daughter was his primary responsibility.  If protecting her was his first and only responsibility, then yes, he would be justified in doing that however he could.   (Actually, I’m oversimplifying the case here –and would probably argue against my own point if pressed, focusing on a need to define what we are protecting from and for, etc… but that’s a moot point because protection isn’t the primary responsibility in the first place).  A parent’s first responsibility is to model Jesus Christ to their child, and in so doing to hopefully help their child become the right sort of person—the sort of person that loves and follows Jesus himself (or herself). 

If a parent takes seriously the job of being the likeness of God to their child, (and raising their child to also be the image bearer of God) then suddenly the matter of doing “whatever it takes” to protect a child can be seen in a much clearer light.  How have you protected your kid if, though they lived without physical harm, they came to distrust both you and God because you were untrustworthy in your methods?  God never lies or deceives.  Ever.  No matter what our earthly father figures may have done, God will never break our trust.  We need to be careful to see God for who HE really is, and not to project the mistakes of man onto Him. 

Questions for Discussion:

  • What was your opinion of Dracula’s parenting as you watched Hotel Transylvania?
  • Did you have a parent who did as Dracula did and broke your trust or deceived you in some way for what they considered the “greater good”?
  • What do you think God would have done if he had been in Dracula’s place?
  • When you think about God, in what ways do you think he is like your earthly dad and in what ways do you think he is different?
  • Do you think you have ever (unfairly) accused God of doing something (or being some way) because it’s what your father figure on earth did or was?

 by Stacey Tuttle

Click here to read quotes from Hotel Transylvania.