It’s the end of September, and once more the beginning of pumpkin spice lattes, football, and the holiday transitional movie season. This weekend, another animated “blockbuster” sinks its fangs into the waiting juvenile masses. This vivid description is to serve as an opening for my latest review assignment: Hotel Transylvania 2. While Halloween is still a few weeks off, Adam Sandler and his buddies release their animated sequel in hopes of kicking off October right. Can this franchise keep the same “spirit” of fun and humorous, or does it join the list of unimpressive sequels. Read on to find out.
The first Hotel Transylvania was cute and family friendly, qualities that number two amplifies to the next level with Dracula’s grandson. Dennis is an adorable, big eyed, high-pitched toddler whose innocence leads our “heroes” to teach him the old monster ways. The kid himself is cute in both voice and looks, bringing energy to the old fogey monsters inhabiting the hotel. As for the film’s adventure, it is very simplistic, filled with half baked schemes, overused taglines, and some running gags that start out funny, but eventually get stale (a.k.a the blah blah blah thing). Sandler’s usual bag of tricks continue to be entertaining, especially with the younger audience members. I myself enjoyed Sandler’s wit as he pokes fun at a number of relevant modern day “conveniences”. Cell phones, social media, even the modern day television icons (i.e. cakey the monster) all are mocked by the lord of darkness at how ridiculous (and overused) these things are.
So the humor is the same, but what about the story? In truth the tale has a similar feeling to the first film’s tale, with many recycled plotlines filling the 90 minutes. Despite the events of the first movie, Dracula still has issues with the whole monster/human racial thing, especially in terms of letting Dennis grow up outside the hotel. 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. Yet amidst of the sea of familiarity, the more “unique” elements maintain their charm and fit well with rehashed storyline. That is until you get to the grand finale. While the ending did introduce a barely needed set of characters to help bring the film to a close, it lacked the finesse that Hotel 1 had with it.
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. 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.
In terms of voice acting, again nothing new here. Sandler’s Transylvanian accent still makes me giggle, and his throaty, over exaggerated cries are still consistent over the last two decades. Gomez has managed to bring back Mavis’ modern woman charm, while also adding the emotional touch of an overprotective mother. Kevin James is well… Kevin James, a mixture of loud screaming and hushed talking that pales in comparison to how the monster looks. The problem with this movie is that the other characters really don’t get much voice time in this picture. Buschemi, Spade, even Samberg felt pushed on the backburner, with Sandler taking most of the dialog in this movie. Not only did this limit the character interactions we enjoyed, but also deprived us of some more diverse comedy. On the plus side, it meant limited time hearing Fran Drescher’s voice.
Hotel Transylvania 2 has the same fun, family friendly element that charmed many audience members long ago. Not much has changed over the past few years, which isn’t a bad thing in a movie like this. However, I would have liked to see a more cohesive and in depth story like the first one to round up the picture. Nevertheless, the younger members will scream in delight with this film, while the older crowd will enjoy the more subtle pokes at popular media. Worth a trip to theater? I’ll say yes, just because of the fun adventure, but there really isn’t anything “theater worthy” of it.
My scores are:
Movie Overall: 7