Editor’s Note: Hotel Transylvania 2 opened in wide theatrical release September 25, 2015.
There is a point early on in most family features where you know exactly who the film was made for, be it just for the kids or for everyone in the audience. Hotel Transylvania 2, director Genndy Tartakovsky’s sequel to 2012’s Hotel Transylvania, really doesn’t know who it’s for even by the time the credits roll. There’s enough to keep everyone entertained, but it’s all spaced out instead of layered so you get one joke for the adults and the following joke is for the kids instead of smartly making one joke that appeals to both for different reasons. It goes on like this for the entire film, never quite clicking but never being unentertaining either.
The script by Sandler and former SNL writer Robert Smigel (the man responsible for The Ambiguously Gay Duo and Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog) is uneven and doesn’t make much sense in the long run.
The story picks up just after the first film with Mavis (Selena Gomez) marrying Johnny (Andy Samberg). Mavis is the daughter of Count Dracula (Adam Sandler) and Johnny is a normal human. The plot of the first one involved the monsters going to Hotel Transylvania to be themselves and safe from the humans, whom they believed were still afraid of and out to kill monsters. Dracula and his friends were wrong and monsters have now been accepted in the world to the point that they now stay at Hotel Transylvania with the monsters, living in harmony. Mavis and Johnny have a baby boy named Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) and he looks like a perfectly normal human child.
This is when the, I’ll say tensions, arise. Dracula is convinced Dennis will be a vampire while there are no indications (like a lack of fangs and the inability to change forms) that he is. If he doesn’t get his fangs by his fifth birthday, it’s unlikely he will and will therefore be human (despite being genetically half vampire anyway…I know, it doesn’t make sense). Drac takes it upon himself, with his friends from the first film: Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne, the Wolfman (Steve Buscemi) and Griffin, the Invisible Man (David Spade), to coax the vampire qualities out in little Dennis quite against Mavis’ wishes while she and Johnny are visiting his family in California to see if that would be a better place to raise Dennis than the hotel if he does turn out to be human.
The script by Sandler and former SNL writer Robert Smigel (the man responsible for The Ambiguously Gay Duo and Triumph, The Insult Comic Dog) is uneven and doesn’t make much sense in the long run. First you have to buy that a vampire can procreate in a traditional fashion, then that a half human/half vampire hybrid would only elicit the characteristics of one of those halves instead of both. I know it’s a kid’s movie, but it still bothered me during the film. Despite these nagging questions, the film is still entertaining in parts, much more so than most Sandler pictures (just like the first one). The jokes occasionally work, but there are very few that had the almost full audience laughing very much at all. The whole thing just kind of passes along, feeling longer than the 90 minutes that it is (also like the first one) with a handful of jokes that work well, some that kind-of work and many that are just sort of there.
Tartakovsky for his part does an amazing job supervising the creation of some truly beautiful animation and getting some good performances out of some people that typically do less than stellar work.
Sandler for his part is pretty good as Dracula, loosening up from the first film and is actually completely not annoying at all in this part. The same can be said of David Spade and Kevin James, neither of whom have ever made a particularly entertaining live action film. Selena Gomez and Andy Samberg are charming as the young couple, though Samberg is severely marginalized this time around (which may have been a good thing, since he was kind of annoying in the first film).
Tartakovsky for his part does an amazing job supervising the creation of some truly beautiful animation and getting some good performances out of some people that typically do less than stellar work. It’s no surprise he can direct something good considering he created TV’s Dexter’s Laboratory, Samurai Jack and the original Star Wars: Clone Wars that ran on Cartoon Network in the year or two run-up to Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith. His framing and staging of the visual gags are among the highlights of this so-so film. It’s actually a shame that something that looks so good has a script this humdrum. He did a similar thing for the first film, which kind of makes me wonder what the film would have been like if he’d taken a final pass on the scripts and tailored them to his sensibilities, which don’t talk down to kids and can entertain adults just as much. It’s nice to see him return to keep the visual sense from the first film, I only wish he’d had more input in the content he was visualizing.
The biggest problem with the film is that ignores a potentially good storyline in the showing of Dennis exhibiting both vampire and human qualities, focusing instead on ‘will he be human or vampire?’. The answer is he’ll be neither because he’s both. Another glaring issue is that they bring up prejudices of the monsters and the humans against each other but they drop them as quickly as they’re brought up. A kid’s movie isn’t the place for a serious discussion on that topic but if it’s broached, it should at least be dealt with in a better fashion than just ignoring it by the end like everything’s okay. I wasn’t looking for anything heady in Hotel Transylvania 2, but both sides should have been made to look more ridiculous than they were for holding these views. It all ends just a little too pat and really unimaginatively.
Hotel Transylvania 2 isn’t a bad film, it’s enjoyable enough, but it doesn’t really do anything nor to any parts really stick out to call attention to. It occupies its time reasonably well, you just may forget you saw it by the time you reach your car in the parking lot.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is enjoyable, but unimaginative and ultimately forgettable.