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DRAWN TOGETHER

Cartoons aren’t just for kids. In fact they go pretty well with cocktails—and beer and vodka. The Animation Block Party understands, and this year the festival toasts its 10th anniversary with an extra day of screenings and partying, not to mention the best and brightest animated shorts chosen from an international submission pool of hundreds. Tonight kicks off with the 2013 T-shirt launch and cocktail party before tomorrow’s official opening at the Williamsburg Hall of Music, which features live performances and exclusive shorts from animation bigwigs like Pixar, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon. Later in the week, Rooftop Films hosts an outdoor screening of world premieres, and the official after-party at the Brooklyn Academy of Music—which promises free food, drinks, and all the cartoons you could ever desire—is not to be missed.

Wed., July 24, 6 p.m., 2013

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Anamanaguchi

Dripping with nostalgia for a childhood spent on the cusp between the 1980s and 1990s, you wonder whether Anamanaguchi’s members are even too young to have played the video games that spawned the NES-based sounds that they sample. Their pop punk chiptune anthems feel like they’ve been filtered through the hypersensitive eyes and ears of a toddler filled with unyielding reverence for his or her Chuckie Cheese-partying, Cartoon Network-watching older siblings. Pictureplane and Hot Sugar open for this all ages show, perfect for the post-irony generation.

Fri., May 17, 8 p.m., 2013

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In Hotel Transylvania, A Comic Dracula Still Kills

Casting a tapered, vase-slender silhouette and speaking in a Transylvanian accent with a touch of Borscht Belt, Hotel Transylvania’s defanged Count Dracula is introduced in an 1895-set prologue while serenading his infant daughter. No menacing carnivore, this Nosferatu has sworn off fatty human blood, is more scared of humans than we are of him, and desires nothing more than a spot hidden away from ever-ready-to-mob villagers in which to raise his tyke—his baby-voiced, Weekend Update croon at the cradle’s side ID’s no one less than Adam Sandler as the Voice Of.

To such an end, the Count breaks ground on Hotel Transylvania, meant to become a haven for the entire monster squad of persecuted and despised Universal Studios contract players. When we rejoin the Count a century or so later, we find his establishment’s rooms booked up by Wolf Man and family, Frankenstein and Bride, Jell-O mold the Blob, and so on. It’s the eve of daughter Mavis’s 118th, which, in Dracula years, makes her a restless teenager pacing up her bedroom walls. Although Mavis is going through a goth phase—perhaps inevitably, given her lineage—she’s really just a sweet Selena Gomez–voiced kid who wants to see something of the outside human world that her hyper-protective dad has forbidden to her. (As with Basil Fawlty, the job of hotel manager seems to attract domestic fascists.)

Despite the Count’s best efforts, guess who’s coming to—and possibly going to become—dinner? Distinctly pink and fleshy Jonathan (Andy Samberg), a young, mortal backpacker, stumbles into the hotel’s lobby and into Mavis’s heart, after the Count disguises Jonathan for his own safety as a reanimated cousin of Frankenstein’s monster so he can thereby “pass,” to use the language of clandestine racial identity.

Hotel Transylvania is full of lines with the double-meaning elasticity to serve the film’s flexible metaphor, equating monsterdom with the Us versus Them segregation of your choice—though it’s funniest when it just slaps its cards on the table. “Are these monsters going to kill me?” a quivering Jonathan asks the Count. “Not as long as they think you’re a monster.” “That’s kind of racist.” “Mavis could never be with someone of his kind,” old-fashioned Dracula harrumphs before finally venturing into the world to fight for his daughter’s happiness, where he gets a glimpse of Twilight—the franchise that made the world safe for human-vampire mixed couples—and balks, “This is how they represent us?”

Hotel Transylvania is, in brief, a tract against parochial xenophobia, the Count’s lofty getaway a catchall filling in for gated community, ethnic ghetto, or hick backwater—whatever you like. The idea that insular communities might have any intrinsic value does not enter into Hotel Transylvania’s script, content as it is to endorse the great melting pot of pop monoculture, for which Instagram tourist Jonathan is the missionary, pushing aside zombie Beethoven and his decaying songbook to take over as Mavis’s birthday entertainment. When the monsters do finally emerge from seclusion, they discover that they have gained acceptance with the humans through the vehicle of entertainment, as the great-great-grandchildren of the torch-and-pitchfork-wielding yokels who once spurned them are now profiting from a “Monster Fest” at the foot of the Carpathians. The nearest Hotel Transylvania comes to criticizing the compact with pop commodification comes when the Count is plugged into Jonathan’s smartphone and, hearing LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It,” gasps “It’s taking my soul!”

Although it doesn’t worry itself with dialectic complexities, Hotel Transylvania succeeds on the level of entertainment. The screenplay is credited to Peter Baynham and Saturday Night Live/You Don’t Mess With the Zohan writer Robert Smigel—though who can remember who contributed what during the film’s six-year, six-director gestation—and mercifully voids most of the bodily function jokes early on, making room for a steady pelting of one-liner asides and cleverly designed sight gags, many relying on in-depth 3-D composition.

Given its confusing provenance, the coherent visual identity of the final Hotel Transylvania must in large part be thanks to the contribution of director number six, Genndy Tartakovsky, a Cartoon Network vet who has worked principally in “flat” animation (Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack), here making his feature-film debut. The computer animation is not of the nigglingly detailed, photorealistic sort that preponderates today, but is rather clean, graphic, and almost hieroglyphic, and able to be read, understood, and enjoyed in a moment. Some of the biggest laughs come from simply hitting the audience unawares with irresistibly hysterical establishing shots: a somnolent gremlin bingo caller who bears a passing resemblance to Angela Lansbury; the Wolf Man (Steve Buscemi), with red, saucer-round, insomniac eyes, piled sleepless under his pack of disobedient pups in the early a.m. The character design is uniformly delightful, including an Invisible Man (David Spade), whose tortoiseshell glasses arch their “eyebrows”; a bumptious peanut-shaped Mummy (Cee Lo Green), evoking Nightmare Before Christmas’s Oogie Boogie; a nattily dressed, well-spoken Human Fly (Chris Parnell) with binocular eyes. The charming closing-credits sequence imagines all of these characters in 2-D, proving that Mr. Tartakovsky’s aesthetic loyalties are not so easily swayed, while giving grounds to hope that he will negotiate the ranks of feature CG animation with soul intact.

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AWESOME HOLIDAY

When Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim—the comedic duo that star in the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! on Cartoon Network’s awkwardly inappropriate, yet bizarrely hilarious, late-night programming Adult Swim—were on the Jimmy Kimmel Show recently, they sort of tried to explain the meaning behind their holiday tour called Tim and Eric Awesome Tour Chrimbus Spectacular. What is “Chrimbus,” exactly? They said this holiday is a lunch-hour celebration in which the winter man comes to inspect the “chrimbus bush”—and if the chrimbus bush is trim and wet, then the winter man gives you a present (so naughty!). Other gifts to be received at this holiday show include sketches, short films, comedy sets, and music by Tim and Eric’s classic rock band, Pusswhip Banggang, with opener Neil Hamburger.

Sat., Nov. 27, 7 & 11 p.m., 2010

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Mux Mool

Knowing that Mux Mool is more exotic and eye-catching, DJ/illustrator Brian Lindgren wisely took up this stage name. It isn’t just the “Adult Swim” connection that makes Lindgren/MM noteworthy but also his tireless pursuit of samples, beats, and collected sounds. Now in the middle of a nationwide tour, for this hometown (rather, home-borough) show, you can see up close that he works his beats as hard as he works his laptop. With Living Days, Expensive Looks, and Warm Ghost.

Tue., Oct. 12, 8 p.m., 2010

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‘Chuck Chillout Birthday Concert’

Coming full circle, Mr. Chillout is now back on Kiss FM, where he belongs. It was there that he helped to establish the rep of many old-school artists and the field still needs his discerning taste. It’s also fitting that his onetime protege Flex, who’s made quite a name for himself also, is alongside CC for his birthday show. And though he’s manning the decks and not the mike, Schooly can also be heard on Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, which is a good home for a proto-gangsta.

Fri., Nov. 6, 11:30 p.m., 2009

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Andrew W.K.

This local boy is just unstoppable. After making his name as the funniest blustery glam-rocker around, he’s gotten into motivational speaking, reality TV, jingle writing, producing, doing a Cartoon Network show, and appearing as a talking head on TV news. Now finding time to perform at the club he cofounded, he’s got a lot to talk about—but you can bet whatever he touches upon, it’ll be positive and full of hugs. And hey, who doesn’t need that now and then? With TV Baby, Walker & Cantrell, Jayson Green.

Tue., July 7, 8 p.m., 2009

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‘Adult Swim Presents A.C. Newman & Cheeseburger’

Indie rocker A.C. Newman, with his lush, sensitive odes to heartbreak, is the most out of place in tonight’s lineup, which was selected by comedian Jon Glaser as a means to promote his show on Adult Swim. Then again, perhaps the New Pornographers frontman is here to provide some respite from the evening’s other, bawdier performers (Brooklyn über-rockers Cheeseburger, similar sounding Atlanta rockers the Woggles, and a hockey-mask-wearing burlesque review), who’ve each had some involvement with the Cartoon Network’s late-night block. But hey, one of Newman’s songs was on How I Met Your Mother; that has to count for something.

Thu., June 25, 7 p.m., 2009

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IMPOSTERS!

We hear the witness protection program has a new batch of detainees. Question is: Who are they? Well, the folks over at Adult Swim’s Delocated, a new comedy about a family who moves to New York City as part of a witness protection program, aren’t about to give it away at this latest installment of the Comedy Below Canal Presents series. For this music and comedy event, they’ve disguised all the performers’ names, including burlesque troupe “The Monfani Sisters,” an exclusive comedy video from “Yvgeny Mirminsky” and “J.Z. Kilometers,” and music by “Bo Ra Flengo.” This all sounds a little fishy, but perhaps the show’s host, Delocated‘s “Jon” Glaser, will provide some answers.

Thu., March 19, 9 p.m., 2009

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GREAT JOB, GUYS!

Ever since its debut two years ago on Adult Swim, the Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! has attracted dozens of celebrity cameos—Michael Cera, John C. Reilly, and John Mayer, to name a few—all eager to take part in the show’s nonsensical style. Imitating the poor quality of low-budget public-access television to hilarious effect, Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim (Tom Goes to the Mayor) have done everything from hysterical music videos with Ben Folds to skits with Zach Galifianakis (dressed in white robes and women’s retro wigs) to hosting cat film festivals and crank-calling Macy’s. But how will they pull off these sketches, pranks, musical numbers, and short films live? Whatever it is, we’re sure it’ll be awesome.

Fri., Jan. 30, 8 p.m., 2009