Meaghan McDonough ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
The announcement of Hotel Transylvania 2 came a bit out of left field, even to fans of the original. Hotel Transylvania was widely criticized and more than moderately forgotten about—nothing but a cartoonish take on classic monsters, outfitted with potty humor and Halloween candy sweetness. Some film critics will say that any animated feature that keeps kids in their seats is good enough, but Hotel Transylvania received a lot of flak for not catering to adults. The failure in reaching ‘all ages’ esteem combined with the predictable plot line made for a film that really didn’t seem worthy of a sequel. But by some strange witchcraft—Adam Sandler’s soul crushed and crumbled over a cauldron filled with the sheer desperation of Sony Picture Animation, probably—Hotel Transylvania 2 made it into wide release. Newly renovated, Hotel Transylvania 2 inches into the realm of ‘family fun’ without reaching it’s full potential.
The film opens to the wedding of Mavis—the rebellious daughter of Dracula—and Jonathan, her goofy-hippie-with-a-heart-of-gold human boyfriend. Dracula, played by Adam Sandler, has remedied his fear of humans and is now apparently accepting them into his family (and his hotel) with open arms. Monsters no longer live in hiding, technology has been introduced to the hotel, and the marriage of modern human society in this hotel for monsters is perfectly embodied in the union of Jonathan and Mavis. A year after the wedding—five minutes into the movie—Mavis announces her pregnancy, and Dracula is thrilled at the idea of becoming a ‘vampa’ (or vampire grandpa, as Sandler’s script reminds us more than once) to a new little vampire. This is where the main bulk of the plot comes in: Mavis and Jonathan’s child, Dennis, has until his fifth birthday to grow his fangs and become a vampire, or else grow up as a ‘normal’ human child. As Dennis’ birthday grows nearer, he’s yet to grow his fangs or turn into a bat, and Dracula grows increasingly frantic over the issue.
What ensues is a two-front series of mishaps and adventures that takes us through the woods of Transylvania and along the roads of suburban California. While Jonathan introduces Mavis to slushies, freestyle BMX, and his parents, Dracula enlists the help of Frankenstein (Kevin James), the Invisible Man (David Spade), the Sandman (Keegan Michael-Key), and his werewolf friend, Wayne (Steve Buscemi), to help Dennis become the vampire Dracula wants him to be.
The humor here works to be inclusive to both young and old—equal parts slapstick silliness and old school situational humor. Puns are still abound, and there are parts that still hang on gags from the first Hotel Transylvania, but it’s clear that screenwriters Adam Sandler and Robert Smigel heard the complaints about the original. They even tossed in references to The Phantom of the Opera, which barely landed but was still an impressive feat. Sitting in the theatre, one will hear many more adults laughing than kids, but kids are still entranced enough to sit still. That, for a family outing, is the best anyone can hope for.
The voice work and animation are as good as it gets with Sony Pictures Animation and while the plot isn’t anything new, the message is something parents will hopefully take to heart. While there are spots that the movie is grossly saccharine and painfully corny, it manages more laughs than the original. Overall, it keeps up a good pace and is a decent movie for a family weekend outing close to Halloween.
Overall Grade: B-
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