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Review: Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky

Premise: A sequel to the 2012 film. Dracula’s daughter Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) and her husband Jonathan (voice of Andy Samberg) produce a human child and consider leaving the hotel. Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) frets about losing his family and sets about trying to turn his grandson into a monster.

What Works: Hotel Transylvania 2 is consistent with the first film and so viewers who liked the original picture will probably enjoy the follow up. The Hotel Transylvania films are children’s movies as opposed to family films; they are very simple stories and the style of the animation is less like the feature films of Pixar and Dreamworks and much more like the televised cartoons of Hanna-Barbera. There is a lot of Scooby Doo, Where Are You! in the Hotel Transylvania movies and so the target audience of young kids will probably enjoy it. The animation of Hotel Transylvania 2 looks a bit better than its predecessor and it is less obnoxious than the first film. The humor of Hotel Transylvania 2 relies primarily on physical comedy and sight gags. These are done well enough and the hijinks and high energy will appeal to children. There are also a handful of jokes thrown in for the sake of the parents and most of those jokes land.

What Doesn’t: Hotel Transylvania 2 is an example of a sequel that is just good enough to get by. In fact, the movie is remarkably similar to one of Sandler’s other sequels: Grown Ups 2. Like the 2013 film, Hotel Transylvania 2 has been made as cheaply as possible. The animation is noticeably improved from the first film but the quality of the work is unacceptable for a feature film. Audiences ought to be able to expect more from a theatrically released motion picture, especially one that they may be paying a 3-D surcharge to view. The fact that this is a kid’s movie is no excuse for the lack of craftsmanship. Also like Grown Ups 2, the laziness extends to the storytelling. Hotel Transylvania 2 does not do anything imaginative with its characters. The supporting cast includes classic monsters like the Mummy, Frankenstein’s monster, and the Wolf-Man who are mostly voiced by Adam Sandler’s regular co-stars such as Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, and David Spade. Just as in Grown Ups 2, the characters pile into a car and spend a lot of the movie just wasting time and making middle-age jokes, most of which are retreads from the first movie. The relationship between Dracula, Mavis, and Jonathan parallels the family relations in Grown Ups 2. Despite the fact that Mavis and Jonathan have gotten married and become parents, they are still the same characters that they were in the first movie and they retread the same issues. The shallowness of the story is most evident in that the movie runs just eighty-nine minutes and yet Hotel Transylvania 2 has a lot of padding, especially at the beginning. The film plods through Mavis and Jonathan’s wedding and their child’s infancy before finally getting to the main thrust of the story: Dracula’s attempts to keep his daughter and her family at the hotel. What follows is a series of comic episodes that are right out of a television sitcom. Like most Adam Sandler movies, Hotel Transylvania 2 attempts to create the illusion of a story with a halfhearted injection of sentimentality late in the movie that supposedly affirms family values. And again like Grown Ups 2, this movie climaxes with a large group fight that literally comes out of nowhere. The ending makes an incongruous shift in tone and the final fight will be quite frightening for little kids.

Bottom Line: The intended child audience of Hotel Transylvania 2 will probably get a laugh out of it but this should have been a direct-to-DVD release. The film is noticeably lazy in story and execution.

Episode: #562 (October 4, 2015)