HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2
***1/2 (out of 5)
September 25, 2015
Adam Sandler as DRACULA
Andy Samberg as JONATHAN
Selena Gomez as MAVIS
Kevin James as FRANKENSTEIN
Steve Buscemi as WAYNE
David Spade as GRIFFIN
Keegan-Michael Key as MURRAY
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
BY KEVIN CARR
Listen to Kevin’s radio review…
While Adam Sandler might be the new Nicolas Cage (whose feature films have lost favor with the public and his only recent hit being “The Croods,” an animated film), he still has a chance to redeem himself before he disappears into obscurity. I have actually liked his last to big releases – “Blended” and “Pixels.” They weren’t perfect, but they were a huge step up from movies like “Jack and Jill” and the “Grown Ups” movies.
A coupe years ago, “Hotel Transylvania” hit it big with audiences right before Halloween, so naturally a sequel was coming. Now, we have “Hotel Transylvania 2,” dropping into theaters in essentially the same weekend, mere days before October.
I enjoyed the first “Hotel Transylvania” well enough. It wasn’t perfect and had a lumbering second act, but as a lifelong horror movie fanatic, I appreciated a lot of the inside humor and the goal of bringing all the great monsters together in a cute, family-friendly movie. It was the essence of my childhood watching “The Drak Pack” and “Scooby-Doo” on Saturday mornings with Monster Cereal ads running in a near-constant loop.
In this new film, Dracula (Adam Sandler) and the whole gang is back. His daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) and her beau Jonathan (Andy Samberg) have gotten married and have a son. Dracula wants the boy to grow up to be a vampire, but as he isn’t showing any immediate monster traits, Mavis wonders if he might be better off in a normal human neighborhood. While she and Jonathan travel to America to check out where he grew up, Dracula and his buddies try to scare the monster out of his grandson and prove that Transylvania is where the boy belongs.
I’ll admit that the initial set-up of “Hotel Transylvania” is better and smoother than that of this sequel. In fact, this sequel set-up is so standard that it is beyond trite. What’s more cliche than having the love interests in the first movie have a baby (see “Father of the Bride II,” “Shrek 3,” “Little Fockers,” “Adams Family Values,” “Toy Story 2,” and pretty much any of the direct-to-DVD Disney animated sequels)? Still, like some of these well-known sequels, this trick actually worked. In fact, I found that angle to be part of a more organic story than the runaround in the first film about trying to hide Jonathan’s humanness.
This film is directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, who was in charge of the first film, so it has the same frenetic style that Tartakovsky pioneered on the Cartoon Network in the 90s. This actually balances well with the mix of slapstick and deadpan jokes that Sandler and company put in the script.
Personally, my favorite parts of “Hotel Transylvania 2” come from the throw-away moments. There’s a lot of jokes packed into the script… some of them crass, some of them stupid, and some that only a handful of audience members will get. I certainly appreciated this because it’s so common nowadays for studios to mandate jokes that everyone will get, and that can sometimes kill the humor in a film.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” isn’t a horror movie, but like its predecessor, it’s made for those who love these characters so much that we like to see them in children’s movies as well as R-rated features. It’s a great way to kick off your Halloween movie watching, which hopefully will continue to October 31st and beyond.