Much of the success of “Hotel Transylvania 2”, like its predecessor, is due to timing. The spooky comedy comes to theaters just in time to prep us for Halloween, and while it isn’t anything special, it’s diverting enough for kids and adults alike.
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, this animated comedy from Sony Pictures Animation picks up some time after the first film left off. Dracula (Adam Sandler), who runs the Hotel Transylvania, has become more accepting of humans since his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) is marrying one (Johnny ,voiced by Andy Samberg). In the first part of the film, we see Mavis and Johnny’s wedding, Mavis announced to her dad that she’s pregnant, the birth of their very human-looking son, Dennis, and a series of vignettes in which Dracula tries to get Dennis’ fangs to come out, proving that he is a vampire. This goes up until Dennis is almost five years old, the cutoff age for vampires to get their fangs. Mavis is overly protective of Dennis, and considers moving him to Johnny’s hometown in California—something neither Johnny nor Dracula want. So Dracula schemes to send Johnny and Mavis to California for a bit, leaving Dennis in his care—but instead of caring for him the way Mavis wants him to, he enlists his monster friends to help him teach Dennis how to be a vampire.
Many of the same characters from the first film return for this one. Unfortunately, Dracula’s group of friends—Frankenstein (Kevin James), Murray the mummy (Keegan-Michael Key), Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi), and Griffin the invisible man (David Spade)—all take more of a backseat to the action this go around, which is a shame because they’re a fun group of characters voiced by a great bunch of actors. But there are some fun new characters this time around, particularly Dracula’s old-school dad Vlad, who is enthusiastically voiced by the great Mel Brooks. Sandler also continues to make a great comedic Dracula with his appropriately over-the-top accent.
The animation is great and very cartoony and colorful as well. The characters move quickly and fluidly, with exaggerated movements that amp up the physical comedy aspect of many of the scenes. The design of all the different monster characters is also creative and well done.
Like the first movie, the gags come fast and furious in “Hotel Transylvania 2”, and while not all of them are hits, anything that can be mined for comedy is used to its fullest advantage. Many of the jokes revolve around Dracula’s reaction to modern human technology (he can’t press a single button on his smartphone successfully thanks to his long fingernails) and to the way Mavis babies Dennis by having him watch a show about a cute monster named Cakey (who proclaims that “monsters like to share”, much to Dracula’s disgust) and feeding him mostly avocados. But Mavis isn’t the only one. When Dracula takes Dennis to his old camp where he first learned to fly and turn into a bat as a child, he finds that times have changed. For instance, the hundred-foot-high rickety tower he would jump off of is now off limits, the little vampires instead jumping over a net about a foot off the ground. As the camp counselor tells Dracula, everything is different now, and their insurance policy won’t allow them to do anything the old way.
Of course, Dracula learns to accept Dennis whether he is a monster or a human, as the film approaches its convenient and predictable end. It may not be a very original message, but it’s still heartfelt. The nice thing about this movie is that it is as much about Dracula’s relationship with Mavis as it is with Dennis, as throughout the film they clash over what’s the best way to raise him.
It may not be a contender for best animated feature of the year, or even all that memorable. But “Hotel Transylvania 2” has plenty for families to enjoy, and if you’re looking to get into the spirit as we head into October, then look no further.
Runtime: 89 minutes. Rated PG for some scary images, action and rude humor.
Check out showtimes for this movie and more at the following St. Louis-area theaters:
- Wehrenberg Theatres
- AMC Theatres
- Regal Movie Theatres
- Galleria 6
- Chase Park Plaza
- Moolah Theatre
- Hi-Pointe Theatre
- St. Andrews Cinema
- Plaza Frontenac Cinema
- Tivoli Theatre