Release: 15th February 2016
Format: BR / DVD / DGTL
Now that Dracula (Adam Sandler) has opened the Hotel Transylvania’s doors to humans, things are changing for the better; however, Drac is secretly worried that his half-human grandson, Dennis, isn’t showing his vampire side. So, while Mavis and Johnny are away, Drac enlists his friends to help him put the boy through a “monster-in-training” boot camp. But things really get batty when Drac’s cantankerous, old-school dad (Mel Brooks) pays an unexpected visit.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is the sort of film which feels insanely dumb, yet oddly wry. Jokes and references within the film are not particularly sophisticated, but ample enough to tickle parents as well as children. From visual gags (hipster zombie, gentrification) to spoken ones (the Eatern European twist on Dennis, being of course just to tack an ‘ovich’ on the end), Hotel Transylvania 2 is clearly aware that it NEEDS to be appealing to adults as well as children. And it really does, in a foolhardy share-a-moment-with-your-kids kind of way.
If one were so inclined, you could argue that at its core the film is trying to allegorise sexually political prejudice. Is Dennis a ‘human’ or a ‘vampire’? Shouldn’t we just love him no matter what he is? Can the old world beliefs of Dracula and Vlad be overcome by the simplicity of familial ties? Will Dennis’ developments be down to nature or nurture? Etc. Or maybe it is all just a big fat coincidence. Either way, these undercurrents make Hotel Transylvania 2 uncharacteristically relevant to current society. But that isn’t really the point of a film such as this. The true meaning of the movie is; does it make us laugh? Depending on how hard you are to please, the answer is likely a yes.
Hotel Transylvania 2 has a little bit of everything for someone. The truth, however, is that for a film about ghouls and monsters it is very, very cute. Yes, it often veers into the obscenely ridiculous, and regularly threatens to bore with by-the-numbers plotting; but then characters like Blobby slide into frame and save the day. Director Genndy Tartakovsky is the mind behind Dexter’s Laboratory, so that should give you a clear indication of the path this film treads. Lessons seem to have been learned since the more juvenile original Hotel Transylvania, and applied here in spades. Comedy legends such as Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Dana Carvey and even the great Mel Brooks come aboard. Although some of them fail to make an impact as characters, it seems that their sheer presence has encouraged all involved to elevate their game.
You could never call the artwork in films such as this “beautiful”, but Hotel Transylvania 2 definitely has a quality that adds to the viewing enjoyment. It is a world filled with things that squelch and slurp, to great effect. The voice cast are all good fun, with the thankless zombie work (pardon the pun) going to Selena Gomez as Mavis and Andy Samberg as the excruciatingly dumb Jonathan. In fact, for a character who basically led the first film, Jonathan is practically comatose this time around. That being said, he IS involved in a great sight gag that references Gary Oldman’s version of Dracula from the 1993 Francis Ford Coppola film.
It is hard to justify watching Hotel Transylvania 2 unless you have kids or are a really hardcore Adam Sandler fan. But either way, it’s a good source of mirth and a harmless way to spend 90 minutes of your life. Plus, it is a helluva lot better than the current Sandler alternative; The Ridiculous Six. [retch]
Film Grade: C+
Whatever you want to say about the special features here, you can’t fault Sony for at least making the effort.
There are not one, but two Commentaries! The first is a rather insightful and informative director’s commentary with Tartakovsky and the other is an Adam Sandler phone-in. Both are engaging in their own ways, but the latter feels more like a podcast.
For – as Nick Frisbee would say – the “chilblains”, you have what amounts to a series of Buzzfeed articles in video form. Monster Lullaby Scary-Oke Sing Along with Dennisovitch! lets you join in with classics such as Hush Little Monster and Twinkle, Twinkle Little Bat. How to Draw Your Favorite Characters is a nice little art workshop for your budding animator and Make the Scary and Silly Sounds of HT2 will literally be the next activity your family does after watching it. Fun AND informative.
Throw the Ultimate Monster Party! is everything an American child could wish for; you British children, however, can make do with Sainsbury’s basics plastic plates and a creppy magician who says “blah, blah, blah”…Oh how cynical of me!
The cluster of half finished Deleted Scenes offers some fun alternatives on popular scenes, with the flashback to Drac’s Camp being a particular highlight.
The Character Sketch Gallery is a humdrum collection of just that, character sketches.
The New Guys and Meet the New Characters — Animation Progressions feel like different versions of the same conversation. But it is nice to hear that Mel Brooks’ most divarish moment concerned his grandchildren.
There are the customary Previews of other coming titles, and in case you missed it the hundred times it appears in the film, you can watch the Music Video for “I’m In Love with a Monster” by Fifth Harmony.
Special Features Grade: B-
It is always nice to find a film that the whole family can enjoy. Especially when the experience can extend into the realms of special features.