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Hotel Transylvania 2

Platform(s): Movie
Genre: Action/Adventure
Publisher: Columbia Pictures
Release Date: Sept. 25, 2015


Movie Review - 'Hotel Transylvania 2'

by Adam Pavlacka on Sept. 25, 2015 @ 12:30 a.m. PDT

Dracula and his buddies try to bring out the monster in his half-human, half-vampire grandson in an effort to prevent Mavis from leaving the hotel.

The original "Hotel Transylvania" was a bit of a surprise when it hit theaters in 2012. An original animation project from director Genndy Tartakovsky (best known for "Star Wars: Clone Wars"), "Hotel Transylvania" was a family-friendly coming-of-age story that mixed hyperactive humor with a lesson about acceptance. "Hotel Transylvania 2" returns to the same well, providing a follow-up that is fun but not quite as good as its predecessor.

Things kick off with Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Johnny's (Andy Samberg) wedding. Using a montage of scenes, the story quickly covers about five years or so, as Mavis and Johnny have a son, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff). According to the film lore, vampires show their fangs by their fifth birthday. Since Dennis is a human-vampire hybrid, Dracula (Adam Sandler) is desperately worried that his grandson will end up as just a normal human. Hijinks occur as a result of Dracula's harebrained schemes to get Dennis to show his fangs.

Taken as a collection of independent scenes, there are plenty of laughs to be found in "Hotel Transylvania 2." The under-10 set, who made up most of the theater during my preview screening, seemed to love all of the visual humor. Laughter was constant, even if the underlying story bits sometimes fell short.

What made the original film so strong was the varied cast of characters, each of whom was given a chance to shine. There was also a true sense of conflict to be had. Here, the conflict is more or less Dracula's own insecurity and, by extension, Mavis' individual reflection of her father. She doesn't like his overbearing nature, but in order to combat it, she nearly becomes an overprotective parent herself.

With the weight of the film squarely on Sandler's shoulders, he manages to pull it all together, but a stronger script with a meatier conflict would have helped propel the movie from "decent" to "great." We even get a short tease of what could have happened in the final act, when Dracula's own human-hating father (voiced by Mel Brooks) gets wind of his great-grandson's birthday party and shows up. Instead of developing that thread, though, the film glosses over it, opting for a simple resolution that wraps everything up nice and tidy.

One thing the film does well is deliver its message of acceptance without ever becoming preachy. It's a message that's delivered through the point of view of children, reminding adults that prejudice is something that's learned, not something that is innate. The human/monster pairings in the film are a simple allusion to interracial dating, with the young telling the old that it's no big deal.

As long as you don't go in expecting a masterpiece, "Hotel Transylvania 2" is worth checking out, especially if you have a few kids in tow. It's not as brilliant as the original, but what is lost in story is made up for in slapstick humor and sight gags that are somewhat reminiscent of old Tex Avery cartoons.

Score: 6.8/10

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