Synopsis – Dracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.
My Take – Back in 2012, Adam Sandler‘s comic turn as Dracula in the animated Hotel Transylvania was kind of a surprise. The film was funny, cute and family friendly, qualities that are important for a successful animated feature. In this sequel, the humor & the fun factor is without doubt retained, but what about the story? Much like the humor, the tale of this film has much of the same feeling as its predecessor. Despite the events of the first movie, Dracula still has issues with the whole monster/human racial thing in the movie. The team must have run out of ideas, because a lot of scenes may seem familiar from the first film, especially in terms of Dracula’s obsession with keeping Mavis at home. Yet amidst of the sea of familiarity, the more unique elements maintain their charm and fit well with rehashed story line. That is until you get to the grand finale. The whole ending sequence just seemed rushed up. It almost seemed like it was designed to bring a barely mentioned character into the picture, which wasn’t really necessary. However this sequel has the same fun, family friendly element that charmed many audience members long ago. The younger members will scream in delight with this film, while the older crowd will enjoy the more subtle pokes at popular media. The sequel does maintain all the character relations and chemistry while adding in new ones like Drac’s father voiced by the legendary Mel Brooks. It also keeps the same great animation and music. Plus with Adam Sandler now active in writing the script, some his childish annoying potty humor got in the recipe as well and it’s obvious as all get out. The story follows Dracula (Adam Sandler), the titular hotel’s owner, who is glowing like the full moon at the wedding of his vampire daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) to her human love, Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and Drac’s on Cloud 9 when he hears the news that Mavis is pregnant with his grandchild. Drac is convinced that the baby will be a vampire. It’s impossible to tell whether the infant favors Mavis or Jonathan, but he seems like a fully human toddler. Drac grows increasingly anxious as Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) approaches his fifth birthday (when little vampires’ fangs appear), and when Drac learns that Mavis is considering moving out of the hotel and going to live with the humans.
Jonathan actually wants to continue living at Hotel Transylvania, where he has started to help out with hotel operations (now that the hotel is accepting human guests), but he reluctantly agrees to take Mavis to visit his parents (Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman) in California. Drac gets them to leave Dennis in his care while they’re away. As soon as mom and dad are out of sight, he packs Dennis into his car seat while, Frank (Kevin James), Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Griffin (David Spade), Murray (Keegan-Michael Key) and Blobby (Jonny Solomon) pile in to help with Drac’s mission. The vampire, Frankenstein’s monster, the werewolf, the invisible man, the mummy and the blob have teamed up to help bring out Dennis’ inner vampire-ness. The gang visits some of their old “haunts” to teach the kid the tricks of the monster trade, with some pretty funny results. Dennis is enjoying all of this, but Mavis is none too happy when she finds out what her father has been up to and she (literally) flies home to protect her son. As you’d probably guess, his little road trip doesn’t exactly help Drac’s chances of keeping Mavis, Jonathan and Dennis under his roof. Complicating the situation further is the attendance at Dennis’ birthday party by his old-school human-hating great-grandpa Vlad (Mel Brooks). The prediction can be somewhat true; the craziness and heart remains, but the narrative is too busy, even without much development, even compared to its predecessor. What exceeds the expectation is the theme it handles is a lot interesting. Animation wise the film lives up to the standards the first one set. Drac and the crew fluidly move about the scenes, the voices match the lips, with the exception of the invisible man whose glass just teeter, and visuals are fun and colorful. The lack of new features is a little disappointing, but it was to be expected when you limit yourself to a hotel and pull out all the stops on the first movie. Being a rehash isn’t always a bad thing, any fan of Marvel should keep that as creed now a days. Sometimes, a retelling is all you need to make a good sequel. Sure, there is that sort of pillow of comfort of not being any different, but it can explore many different possibilities in the world without the need of lengthy world building. The original Hotel Transylvania had us restrained into, well, Hotel Transylvania.
We might’ve seen one scene near the end where we got to see an airport near Budapest. Here, we see more, if only a little bit, for more time. And what we see is affected by the first movie, boasting a little bit of continuity. Of course many of your little ones won’t care as long as they get to see Drac and the crew do their ridiculous stunts. Kids will love the energetic, cartoonish movements of each of the monsters. In one of the biggest strengths the film has, the animation is of pretty good quality and fluid in motion, not to mention creatively designed. These monsters are a blend of that classic style, with a bit of Tiny Toons mixed up, with voice work to match. In terms of voice acting, Sandler‘s Transylvanian accent still makes me giggle, and his throaty, over exaggerated cries are still consistent over the last two decades. All the other characters voiced by Selena Gomez, Andy Samberg, Kevin James, David Spade and Steve Buscemi all sound exactly as they should and still play off one another well. Even Keegan-Michael Key who replaces CeeLo Green as Murray from the first film practically sounds the same too. Some of the new voice actors to jump on board or receive more attention are Sadie Sandler as Winnie (one of Wayne’s children), Jon Lovitz as a “phantom of the opera” type character and the comedy guru himself, Mel Brooks playing Vlad, Dracula’s father. It really is nice to see a bunch of new and old voice actors work together though. Plus, a star talent like Brooks isn’t wasted either. His appearance isn’t as long as everyone else’s roles but he comes in at the best time. Kudos to Sony Pictures Animation for giving us this somewhat silly but totally enjoyable fantasy film right when our real world seems to be utterly overwhelmed in events and circumstance far more scary that any that might flow form the Hotel Transylvania. Yes, it is a great escape and very much enjoyed. On the whole, ‘Hotel Transylvania 2‘ is an enjoyable comedy spectacle with surprisingly endearing and witty moments. The film is as good as the original if not better and a decent watch for the audience young and old. If you have young kids, or if you were just a fan of the first movie, chances are you will enjoy this for what it is and more so. It’s a surprisingly good early Halloween film that’s a good time for kids and adults. See it, and probably you won’t be disappointed. Give it a watch!
Director – Genndy Tartakovsky
Rated – PG
Run Time – 89 minutes