HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 (2015) review
written by: Robert Smigel and Adam Sandler
produced by: Michelle Mordocca
directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
rating: Rated PG (for some scary images, action and rude humor)
runtime: 89 min.
U.S. release date: September 25, 2015
Sometimes as a critic you watch a movie and notice you’re watching a comedy that isn’t funny or interesting or entertaining. That’s this movie. In fact, “Hotel Transylvania 2” is unfunny and boring. The biggest problem with that is that you should never find yourself noticing that you’re watching a movie while you’re watching a movie. You should be lost in a movie, not groaning at its humor or grimacing at it’s annoying characters and grade school plot. It should suck you in. Well, this movie doesn’t. It just sucks.
That’s not coming from a snooty critic, that’s from a guy who knows what great movies for children can be and “Hotel Transylvania 2” is the exact opposite. The first movie made $148 million for Sony/Columbia in 2012, so a sequel is an afterthought. Still, it saddens me knowing families will make this lousy sequel number one in its opening weekend and that they’ll digest it from now till Halloween and then buy it as a blu-ray babysitter. Why? Because they see any animated feature as an option for their family and, well, Adam Sandler is in it. It has his insulting, selfish and juvenile humor all over it and despite this movie having an amazingly talented director in animator Genndy Tartakovsky (“Star Wars: Clone Wars” and “Samurai Jack”), the whole things reeks of another lazy Happy Madison production.
The movie kicks off with a fastforward run through vampire Mavis (Selena Gomez) and human Johnny’s (Andy Samberg) wedding at Hotel Transylvania, which speeds through the birth and toddler years of their boy, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) and stops just short of the kid’s fifth birthday. That is the age when vampires sprout their fangs and no one is looking forward to that more than Mavis’s 539 year-old father, Dracula (Adam Sandler), who still runs the hotel which now serves both monsters and humans. He wants his curly red-headed grandson to carry on the vampire lineage, but so far, there’s no indication that Dennis will remain a human or turn his fangs on.
Taking a divide and conquer approach, Dracula sends the newlyweds to visit Johnny’s parents, Mike (Nick Offerman, dialing it in) and Linda (a grating Megan Mulally), in California, exposing Mavis to a brand new world of skate parks and slurpees. Meanwhile, Dracula and his monster brothers – Frank/Frankenstein (Kevin James), Warren the Werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade) and mummy Murray (Keegan-Michael Key) set out to show Dennis (or, as Dracula calls him “Denisovich”) how to be a monster. They’ve got their work cut out for them since the impressionable lad’s favorite monster is Kakie (Chris Kattan), a muppet-type monster who has his own family-friendly TV show where he warns kids how bad sugar is because, “the real enemy is diabetes!
The looming question that we’re supposed to be interested throughout the movie is whether or not Dennis will sprout fangs, yet Sandler and Smigel’s story gets bogged down by a lame trip to the summer camp the Drac used to frequent as a young vampire and we just lose interest in kid’s development. It’s obvious from the start where this plotline will wind up and I found myself just wanting to get it over with.
I’m also finding myself wondering where Mel Brooks character was for at least a good hour. The comedy legend lends his distinctive voice to reclusive Vlad, estranged father to Dracula, grandfather to Mavis and great-grandfather to young Dennis. The character is designed to look like Grandpa Munster with some exaggerated features of Brooks and could’ve been a much more interesting comedic presence with a better script and more screen time. Unfortunately, every step involving Vlad is predictable – he’s upset when he finds out that Mavis married a human, but (surprise!) eventually comes around – and it makes me wonder if they just wanted to give Brooks a role without an imaginable clue as to what to do with him.
Also, for a movie called “Hotel Transylvania 2”, very little time is spent on the nightly activity of the resort. Did we really see everything this hotel has to offer in the previous movie? Considering it serves both human and monsters, a business model that has changed since the first movie and would lend itself to layers of laughs, taking the story off the titular grounds seems like a wrong turn. Are there any clever moments in this movie? A couple. It was kind of funny to see Johnny dress up as Gary Oldman Dracula for a costume party and the Egor sounding GPS (voiced by Smigel) evoked a few chuckles out of me. That’s it really.
I found 2012’s “Hotel Transylvania” extremely easy to forget and it looks like that’s how I’ll be looking back on its sequel. Oh, there’ll be more – because, where else are parents gonna take their kids to? “Hotel Transylvania 2” is a stinky number two (sorry, that humor goes with all the pee, poop and fart jokes in the movie) that is easily forgettable. Chaotic and noisy, in its attempt to make up for a thinly sliced plot, the feature is a structural mess and it makes me delighted just to imagine this hotel boarded up for good.