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Adapted from a best-selling novel by David Safier, Monster Family is a joyless computer-animated caper, exhumed from the same ghoulish ground as Hotel Transylvania. Fantastical creatures of the dark including Dracula, his henchman Renfield and a psychotic pharaoh with the ability to transform into a giant scarab beetle scuttle through the faltering frames of director Holger Tappe's Anglo-German pudding, which is drizzled with generous amounts of saccharine sentiment. A ham-fisted script, co-written by Safier and Catharina Junk, remains faithful to the source material but also introduces a trio of squeaking bats for cutesy, comic effect and to accompany the Prince of Darkness in his occasional musical outbursts. A brief chorus of the infectious Pharrell Williams track Happy towards the end of the film is the height of soundtrack irony. Vocal performances from a gifted British cast are forgettable including Emily Watson as a long-suffering matriarch and Catherine Tate as a crazy Russian witch, whose wayward spell-casting sets this whole sorry mess in motion. Emma Wishbone (voiced by Watson) is in a deep funk - a sinking feeling we share after less than half an hour of Tappe's misguided film. The bookshop she runs with hippie, yoga-fixated coworker Cheyenne (Celia Imrie) is in dire financial straits, her husband Frank (Nick Frost) is a slave to his thankless desk job, hormone-addled teenage daughter Fay (Jessica Brown Findlay) is sullen and painfully insecure, and weedy son Max (Ethan Rouse) is being bullied by classmates. Every time the beleaguered mother tries to buoy her family's spirits, she is met with fierce resistance or indifference. Unperturbed, Emma invites her clan to join her at a Halloween party and she hastily telephones costume hire shops to procure a set of plastic fangs to complete her vampire attire. Bizarrely, one call diverts to the Transylvanian lair of lonely Count Dracula (Jason Isaacs). The fanged fiend enjoys their conversation and becomes obsessed with Emma. He instructs ageing witch Baba Yaga (Tate) to transform the unsuspecting mother into a vampire so they can marry. The hag obliges but her enchantment transforms all members of the Wishbones into their costumed alter egos. Patriarch Frank metamorphoses into Frankenstein's monster, Fay becomes a mummy and little Max howls on all fours as a werewolf. In order to return to human forms, the warring Wishbones must put their differences to one side and learn valuable lessons about inner beauty and compassion. Monster Family lumbers like the undead through globe-trotting interludes including a lacklustre showdown at the London Eye observation wheel. The quality of the animation matches the writing, and the central message about families having more fun when they participate in activities together is hammered home without any attempts at subtlety. Fittingly, Tappe's picture will send audiences of all ages to sleep.