Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Review: "Hotel Transylvania 2"
The first "Hotel Transylvania" was an uninspired amalgam of other movies, stitching together the current cinematic fascination with vampires, zombies and the like with angsty teen imperatives. The sequel is a distinct improvement, though curiously almost none of it takes place in the titular hotel.
The last go-round was about Dracula (Adam Sandler, sounding like a Borscht Belt Bela Lugosi) learning to find tolerance for humans when his teen daughter -- well, hundred-and-teens, anyway -- Mavis (Selena Gomez) fell in love with goofy human Jonathan (Andy Samberg).
Flash forward a few years. Mavis and Jonathan are now happily wed and have an adorable tyke, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff). Drac is thoroughly delighted with his grandson ... though he's a little worried that he has yet to indicate any vampire-ish abilities. He seems to be a carbon copy of Jonathan: big poof of red hair, pasty skin, normal, non-sharp incisors, etc.
"He's just a late fanger," Dracula dismisses, though he's secretly worried the kid is really all human. And how disappointing would that be!
Mavis is considering moving their family to Santa Cruz to raise him alongside Jonathan's parents (chirpy Molly Shannon and droll Nick Offerman) and other regular humans. Drac can't stand the idea of being apart from them, so while they're away scouting out the potential new hometown, he and his crew whip up a plan for a road trip to encourage Dennis' monsterish side to come out.
Hijinks ensue, of the lightly scary/slightly vulgar variety.
The gang of supporting characters are back, including Steve Buscemi as a werewolf hectored by his wolf-wife and small army of pups; Frankenstein (Kevin James), big and blandly nice; a fabulous mummy (Keegan-Michael Key); and an invisible man (David Spade), who keeps trying to convince his buddies he has an invisible girlfriend.
The new guy on the block is Dracula's daddy, Vlad, wonderfully voiced by Mel Brooks. He's an old-school type who keeps the fires of hate toward humans well-stoked, and he's got a crew of giant vampire bat henchman to do his bidding. Drac takes steps to ensure Vlad doesn't find out his great-grandkid isn't a bloodsucker.
Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky with a screenplay by Sandler and buddy Robert Smigel, "Hotel Transylvania 2" won't win any contests for originality. It's television-quality storytelling with better animation and voice cast.
But it's breezy, fun and dopey, and sure to keep your little monsters entertained for an hour and a half.