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After angry humans burn down his castle, killing his beloved wife, Dracula is left to raise their daughter, Mavis as a single parent. He vows to protect her from the humans who terrorize monsters everywhere, and creates a hotel for monsters where they can live and cater to the needs of their monster friends in safety. Fast forward to Mavis’ 118th birthday, with Dracula planning a huge celebration at his hotel. Dracula has never allowed his daughter off of the hotel grounds before, and he knew that she was dying to see the world. In an effort to satisfy her curiosity, yet keep his baby safe at the same time, he has his staff construct a fake village just outside of the castle, with zombies pretending to be humans. The rouse doesn’t exactly go as planned, and the “village” ends up in flames. When she returns, she believes that the crazy inferno was just how the humans are, and agrees never to venture out again. Later, in the middle of the chaos of monster guests arriving from all over, an eccentric human, Johnny, has managed to follow the flaming zombies to the hotel. Dracula panics, and attempts to disguise Johnny as a monster, “Johnnystein”. Mavis literally bumps into Johnny, and the two of them “Zing”. Much mayhem ensues as Drac tries to pull off Johnnystein as a party planner for Mavis’ birthday, and the monsters accept Johnny as one of their own. Once Johnny’s real identity is discovered, however, Dracula must decide what is best, not only for Mavis’ safety, but for her happiness.
Although Dracula’s actions are performed with the best of fatherly intentions, he bases those actions on one assumption: all humans are bad. He believes that the differences between 2 groups cannot be reconciled. He neglects some important issues, though. First of all, just because SOME members of a group are bad, doesn’t mean that ALL members of that group are bad. Jonathan, for instance, shows Dracula and the other monsters that there actually are some humans worth liking, and even trusting. Another thing that Dracula has difficulty with at first, is trusting in his daughter’s wishes. As a parent, one gets used to guiding a child. Letting go and trusting them to make good choices is often worrisome. One has to have faith that they have taught them well enough for them to make good choices. But, what really throws everyone for a loop is the “zing” that happens between Mavis and Jonathan, proving that you don’t have to be exactly alike to find love in one another.
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Jonathan: Uh, can I just ask? What exactly is this place?
Dracula: What is this place? It’s a place I built, for all those monsters out there lurking in the shadows. Hiding from the persecution of human kind. A for them and their families to come to and be themselves. A void of torches, pitchforks, angry mobs. A place of peace, relaxation, and tranquility.
Jonathan: Cool, so it’s like a hotel for monsters?
Dracula: Yes, exactly. A hotel for monsters, way to sum it up.
Jonathan: Are these monster gonna kill me?
Dracula: Not as long as they think you’re a monster.
Jonathan: That’s kinda of racist.
Johnny: So, can I ask you a question? Is that real, about the garlic thing?
Dracula: Yes, I cannot have it. My throat swells.
Johnny: Huh. Wooden stake to the heart?
Dracula: Yeah, well, who wouldn’t that kill?
Johnny: [to Mavis, who’s approaching him closely so she could kiss him] Um, Mavis, I am crazily scared right now.
Mavis: [lovingly] Maybe that’s a good thing. [kisses him]
Dracula: [A suit of armor alerts him to Mavis kissing Jonathan, and he is enraged; then quickly separates them] HOW COULD YOU?! AFTER I SHARED MY PAIN WITH YOU?!
Johnny: [frightened] But– No–
Mavis: Dad, it was just a kiss.
Dracula: No, you’re not allowed to kiss!
Mavis: Dad, I’m allowed to do things. I’m not 83 anymore. I’m allowed to like people or go see the world again.
Drac: WHAT?! You saw it! You-you said you didn’t LIKE it!
Mavis: Maybe I want to give the village another chance. I need to learn, you know, how to roll with it like Johnny does.
Dracula: No, no, you can’t go to the village again!
Mavis: Maybe you can make them see that we can be friends.
Dracula: No, that isn’t possible!
Mavis: Well you can’t be sure. It’s all in how you present yourself!
Dracula: NO, that won’t make a difference!
Mavis: How do you know!?
Dracula: Because it just won’t!
Mavis: WHY, why WON’T it?!
Dracula: BECAUSE THAT VILLAGE DOESN’T REALLY EXIST!!! [The music stops and Mavis and the other monsters are now in a state of shock; a string on Frank’s guitar breaks.]
Mavis: What do you mean… “doesn’t exist”?
Frank: [He and the others approach Dracula] WHAT DID YOU DO?
Dracula: I– [defiantly] I did what I had to do.
Mavis: [demanding] What was it? What ‘exactly’ did you have to do?! TELL ME!
Dracula: I– I built the town, the staff put it all together, the… the zombies dressed up as the townspeople. [Mavis heart-brokenly wanders, and Dracula follows her] Please, if you really went out there and something happened to you, I… I just couldn’t live with myself!
Mavis: But you could live with this? Lying to me? Tricking me? Keeping me here forever when you knew my dream was to go?!
Dracula: I always thought the worst thing ever would be seeing you go, but the worst is seeing you unhappy.
Dracula: I know I lied. I was wrong. But you have to believe this: Johnny wasn’t a bad guy. The truth is, I don’t know if humans are bad anymore. Frank, come on, buddy. You understand.