Directed by Genndy Tartakovsky. Produced by Michelle Murdocca. Written by Robert Smigel and Adam Sandler. Release date: September 25, 2015.
The original Hotel Transylvania was an interesting concept that suffered from a large number of problems that stopped it from being good. The concept saw Count Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) open a hotel for monsters where they could escape from nasty human beings. Getting a bunch of classic horror monsters together in a single location? Okay, that could work. However, that’s just the premise. The plot sees Dracula celebrate the 118th birthday of his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez) and try to keep her from leaving his fortress of solitude. Yes, it’s a “daddy knows best” story, almost completely forgoing its original conceit.
The sequel is just a retread of the original, but with a lot more product placement. Dracula once again wants to keep his daughter from leaving, but this time it’s for a different reason. Mavis now has a son, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), with her husband, a human named Jonathan (Andy Samberg), whom she met and fell in love with in the first film. Dennis doesn’t yet have his vampire fangs, which he needs to get before his fifth birthday, lest he stay a human forever. If the kid remains a human – because apparently that’s how these things work – Mavis will likely move to California with Jonathan; if Dennis becomes a vampire, she’ll stay. So, almost all of the film is spent watching Dracula try to force Dennis into vampirism, lying to his daughter, and going through the same creepy – and not in a good way – “daddy knows best” type of story from the first film.
It seems that Adam Sandler, as he often is, winds up being the biggest problem. He’s a co-writer of the screenplay for one, which means that a large part of his character arc was likely written directly by him. His voice acting is still not particularly good, either, with his “Dracula voice” sounding more like a terrible impression than anything else. Sandler’s not had a good 2015, with The Cobbler, Pixels, and now this, so it comes as a relief that he’s headed to Netflix for a while.
Almost all of the jokes rely on physical comedy, although thankfully they’re not heavily fixated on bodily function humor. The gags are often rehashed from the first film, just like the plot, and whatever initially starts as new winds up wearing out its welcome before too long. It’s a lazy movie, or perhaps its filmmakers simply didn’t have the creativity to come up with new things. Regardless, it comes across as a cash-grab sequel – in more ways than one.
“It’s just a kids’ movie” doesn’t cut it here, folks; a bad movie is a bad movie.
I mentioned the product placement earlier on – it’s maybe the worst Sony movie in that respect since Annie last year. The hotel has gotten involved with social media to grow its business, which means that everyone’s got Sony cell phones and Vaio laptops. The social media subplot doesn’t go anywhere, by the way; it literally exists just to give Sony a way to get their products into the film. It furthers my suspicions that the movie has been made simply as a cash-grab tool and nothing more.
Perhaps worst of all, Hotel Transylvania 2 has Mel Brooks show up as Dracula’s old-school father. Does Mel Brooks need money or something? I’m sure we could do some fundraising so he could stay out of dreck like this. He made a great horror spoof with Young Frankenstein, and now he’s stuck saddled to a creepy Adam Sandler vehicle? Brooks sounds tired and really doesn’t do a whole lot in the role. Then again, none of the voice acting is very good. Nobody seems to be trying, any life they gave to their characters in the first film is gone, and they’re all just cashing paychecks at this point.
The original movie came out in 2012 and didn’t have strong animation. No effort has been put into improving this aspect, so Hotel Transylvania 2 looks the same as its predecessor – but three years later, against an ever-improving computer-generated animation market. It looks horrible. It’s colorful, sure, and it’ll distract those children too young to understand what words mean, but the animation is bland, the character designs are ugly, there’s little detail to the world that’s been created; it all looks like the bare minimum amount of effort has been put in. Every aspect of this film is lazy and uninspired.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is a cash-grab sequel that repeats elements from the first film, uses the same bland animation, continues the creepy “daddy knows best” theme, and throws colorful distractions at us in hopes that kids will ignore how awful it all is. “It’s just a kids’ movie” doesn’t cut it here, folks; a bad movie is a bad movie, regardless of whom it’s targeting. Hotel Transylvania 2 is in the running for worst animated movie of the year, and you have no reason to see it.
Bottom Line: Hotel Transylvania 2 is a terrible sequel to a bad original.
Recommendation: I would almost – I stress almost – recommend taking your kids to The Green Inferno over this.[rating=1]