Monday, June 06, 2016

Hotel Transylvania 2 – review

Director: Genndy Tartakovsky

Release date: 2015

Contains spoilers

I rather enjoyed the first Hotel Transylvania. The humour struck me and it was a nice mix of kid friendly animation with a good old Monster Mash.

Thus I was rather looking forward to the sequel. The formula had been tried and tested but they went a little off-piste with it in this sequel. That’s not to say it was terrible, it wasn’t, but I think that the source of the last film’s humour was somewhat forgotten.

It begins with human Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and vampire Mavis (Selena Gomez) marrying at the Hotel. His human family are there but not all of Mavis’ family. Dracula (Adam Sandler) has not invited his father, Vlad (Mel Brooks, Dracula, Dead and Loving It), as the older vampire will never be able to accept Jonathan as he is an old school monster. Acceptance is a key theme in the film.

the birth
Then we have Mavis asking her father to go for a flight (as bats) one year later when she tells him that she is pregnant. There is now the question, will the baby be human or vampire – Dracula is quick to say it doesn’t matter but clearly wants the baby to be a vampire. Cut forward to the birth and we get Dracula in drag as a nurse in order that he can be at the birth. The baby is a boy, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), with Jonathan’s shock of red curly hair. In one of the better gags, following the joke from the first film, the baby’s first words are “bleh, bleh, bleh”.

the hotel
As things develop Dracula becomes obsessed with Dennis’ fangs appearing (it happens around the fifth birthday). Mavis wants to move to California, where Jonathan grew up, so that the child can be around humans and be in less danger than she perceives at the castle (she does baby-safe the entire hotel). Jonathan actually wants to stay at the hotel – Dracula has him coordinating for human guests – and Dracula does not want them to go. He convinces Mavis to take a trip to see California, with Jonathan, whilst he looks after the baby and then takes a road trip through the depths of Transylvania as he tried to encourage the fangs of the 'late fanger' to drop.

the mummy
Everything comes to a head – after Mavis realises what he has done – at a fifth birthday party to which Mavis invites Vlad. Vlad's old friend, the manbat Bela (Rob Riggle), is violently anti-human and is nearby. The basic premise then is acceptance for what you are, along with a huge dose of older people can’t accept changes in outlooks along the lines of equality and diversity (clearly we can make a case for this acceptance to be about race or lgbt issues). We get the well-meaning parents who invite “mixed couples” over to make Jonathan and Mavis feel better. We also get a lot of, “it was better in my day”.

Bela and Vlad
That’s ok but it was the quick fire dialogue and visual gags that, for me, made the first one work so well and I felt that they had been lost to a degree – probably the best line came from Brooks declaring, when he found out that Dracula was running a hotel, “From Prince of Darkness to King of room service”. We run the cute kid in animation gauntlet, of course, but hearing him extol the virtues of the cool man in a cape – Batman – was great fun. The voice acting was, of course, spot on and the animation very good.

a manbat
I’m not saying this was bad, in any way, shape or form. Just that with more visual and quick fire (monster mash directed) dialogue gags this could have been better. So, not as good as the first but still a worthy way to spend an hour and a half (or just under, the credits are quite some length). 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

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