Hotel Transylvania 2 – Film Review

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key and Mel Brooks

Release Date: Oct 16

Nowadays, it’s an unusual feeling to come out of an Adam Sandler movie and find yourself thinking, ‘that wasn’t so bad.’
It’s a far scarier prospect than any of the varied monsters who reside at Hotel Transylvania, because it implies you’ve become something of a monster yourself. The kind of monster who finds Adam Sandler funny.

Rest assured however, because when you think to yourself ‘That wasn’t so bad’, what you are actually saying to yourself is ‘That wasn’t so bad, for an Adam Sandler movie’.
By normal standards, this is still poor film-making. But Hotel Transylvania 2 finds itself in a privileged position because it follows on from Pixels in the Adam Sandler spectrum of crap.

Hotel Transylvania 2 would have to go to extraordinary lengths to look bad in that films’ shadow.

This film picks up where the original left off. Drac (Sandler) has begrudgingly accepted that his vampire daughter, Mavis (Gomez), has fallen for human slacker, Johnny (Samberg), and now they’re happily married.
Predictably, we are now focusing on their mutant offspring, which comes in the form of sickeningly cute Dennis, who may or may not be a vampire.
Cue a string of barely related set-pieces, hit-and-miss gags and a by-the-numbers happy ending.

The most upsetting thing about this film is the mundane approach it takes to fantasy. Selfies, smart-phones and Facebook are totally integral to this family adventure, which drags it into the yawn-inducing everyday.
Considering the writers had vampires, werewolves and monsters to play with, it is painful to see that the extent of their creativity involves simply mentioning monsters with Facebook pages and bland jokes about Bluetooth.
There is a literal, sentient blue tooth in the film, for the sake of a gag. He casually walks into the shot and Drac just says “There, blue-tooth.”

Someone got paid to write that.

This might have been a clever commentary on technology, if it were that sort of film. Sadly, it’s not, and the writers don’t seem to have any issues with the over-reliance on smart-phones or social media. The implication is that this is simply how life is, isn’t it fun when we throw monsters into the mix?
One major set-piece sees a bunch of kids whip out their phones and start recording something that deserves a bigger reaction. The joke is quite simply “This is what people do now”. It’s quite sad and very uninspired.

As mentioned though, this isn’t utterly terrible and if nothing else, it will keep the kids entertained. It subscribes to the Family Guy school of comedy, in that it throws utterly random gags at you throughout the flimsiest of storylines and hopes that something will stick.
And considering the abundance of gags, by the law of averages, some of them do. It’s never laugh out loud funny, but it will give you a semi-consistent smirk throughout (even if you feel dirty about it).

Like Family Guy, every character is a cardboard cut-out, a cartoon-ish reflection of their actor selves. Steve Buscemi is a world-weary werewolf, who every now and then becomes extremely animated. Kevin James is Frankenstein’s monster, a well-meaning, bumbling idiot. And David Spade is an invisible man who can’t get a girlfriend and everyone ignores.
Even Sandler is represented as a vampire living in the good old days and, despite everyone’s objections, he just wants everyone else to live there too.

The younger crowd fare slightly better. Mavis is endearing enough, though mainly to the younger generation (Selena Gomez in a nutshell). And Dennis does a good job as the Kid Fascinated By Monster act. Only Samberg’s Johnny grates on the nerves as a ‘tubular dude’ who is stuck firmly in the 90s, despite his tech savvy ways.

No one really has chemistry because everything is so random and fast-paced. It’d be like saying the ads in an ad break lack narrative flow, which this film also lacks.
Where it does succeed, and succeed well, is the animation. There is some really sublime imagery on display here, not least of all a late-night flight in the clouds.
The characters are also given great elasticity, allowing their ‘wacky’ personalities to come across visually (more so than any other sense).

It lacks heart, creativity and any major laughs, but Hotel Transylvania 2 isn’t a total train wreck. It’ll give the young ones a good giggle to see monsters get slapped in the face and, if nothing else, it does look very pretty.

Score: 2/5
Written by Stephen Hill

 

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