Tweetable Takeaway: Hotel Transylvania 2 is mostly lame gags that’ll mostly entertain only the younger audience members. Tweet
Nothing like an animated movie starring the voice talents of Adam Sandler and Kevin James to get one in the mood for a conversation of such issues as inter-species marriage, discrimination, and acceptance of those different from us. And yet we are treated to no less than two such movies. Which, really, both Hotel Transylvania movies have good things to say on the topic (It should be a non-spoiler, but the conclusion is we should be tolerant), it’s the humor and padded out storyline that especially weigh down the sequel. Jokes in Hotel Transylvania 2 are far too lame to amuse more than the youngest of audience members, and the third act exists merely to keep the film at feature length.
Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) has made peace with his vampire daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) marrying human Jonathan (Andy Samberg). That is, until they have a son who appears to be human. Dracula professes to be okay with his grandson Dennis being human or monster, but late night (early morning?) visits attempting to get Dennis to turn vampire tell a different story. Dracula encourages Mavis to go visit Jonathan’s parents in California to scope out a possible new home for Dennis as a ruse to take Dennis out with his monster buddies. A variety of gags ensue, including Dennis being thrown off a tower, scaring people, and watching Murray the mummy intone a spell and throw out his back. Every gag and joke has the feeling of being the first one the writers thought of and subsequently stuck with. Groans are more likely to be induced than guffaws.
Characters move around quickly and without much attention to things like physics, and oftentimes the animation feels cheap. Kids won’t notice, but when compared to other animated fare from Pixar and even Dreamworks, there’s a lot that’s desired when watching Hotel Transylvania 2. Few shots ever elicit feelings of awe or impressiveness. Individual characters have the barest of details, and scenes with a high number of characters often contain multiple models of the same monster. The medium of animation allows for limitless mise en scene, and no constraints on the variation of monsters there could be in any one shot, so it’s a little disappointing when one sees two or three Yetis in the background. There are still clever flourishes to be had, though they’re few and far between. The best involves a green blob, appropriately named Blobby, who gets thrown off a cliff and later shows up with a squirrel in suspended animation in Blobby’s see-through body.
After the attempts on turning Dennis into a monster and getting his fangs fail, Dracula brings him back to the hotel only to discover Mavis has invited his father, Vlad (Mel Brooks), to Dennis’s birthday party. The appearance of a new character so late only hurts the film, even if Vlad still plays into the themes of tolerance and racism (species-ism?). Vlad wants Dennis to be a monster even more than Dracula does, and attempts to scare the fangs out of Dennis in the process. It’s at this juncture in the movie that things turn dark, causing several children to be quite frightened in theater I was in. Vlad’s attempts to scare Dennis are scary enough. But once the film brings in his partner (wife?) Bela (Rob Riggle), things get even more frightening. Bela is some kind of giant bat who despises humans and wants to eat their souls. There’s also a full cave of giant scary bats that come to the castle to try and eat Dennis and Jonathan’s family. Things all turn out okay, of course, but the sequence might cause parents to reconsider taking super young kids, or kids who are prone to having nightmares after seeing something scary.
The first Hotel Transylvania had a catchier hook to its story, and remained focused throughout. It wasn’t anything special, but it wasn’t an entirely unsufferable movie either. Hotel Transylvania 2 is a step down from the first due to its slightly less focused structure. If you’re hard pressed for an animated movie to take the kids to, Hotel Transylvania 2 will fit the bill, though it won’t become a treasured classic anytime soon.
I give Hotel Transylvania 2 .5 squirrels in blob out of 5
Score: .5 out of 5
Wil Loper | Contributor