Review: ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ (Same plot, different gags, almost as fun)

Remember how the first movie ended?

Well, the kids get married, one thing leads to another, and before you know it there’s a redheaded boy named Dennis (Asher Blinkoff) who’s about to turn five…but is he vampire or human? Dracula (Adam Sandler) is afraid Mavis (Selena Gomez) will leave with her son and live in California where Jonathan (Andy Samberg) grew up. So, once again, Drac enlists Jonathan in a some silly yet hilarity-ensues scheme that could have all been avoided if everyone would just talk to one another, just in time for another reprise of “all humans must die” provided by a last-minute villain and Vampa Vlad (Mel Brooks).

The first Hotel Transylvania seemed like a disjointed monster mish-mash, but after multiple viewings, it actually works better than you’d think. From the manic mind of Cartoon Network alumni creator/director Genndy Tartakovsky and input from plenty of Saturday Night Live folks, including voice talent. While Adam Sandler does voice the main character of Dracula and has a writing credit, this is by far much more of a collaborative effort (ie not really a Sandler movie like this past summer’s dismal Pixels), so you can put your fears aside. Essentially, if you enjoyed the original, you’ll enjoy the sequel, but it’s more of the same.

One late highlight of the film is Mel Brooks voicing Vlad, Dracula’s dad who hangs out with a less human-tolerant crowd. Too bad he’s just a replacement for the formerly human-hating Drac; the delivery of lines by Brooks is fun and would have been better served earlier in the film. This also highlights one of the movie’s missed opportunities; the plot runs so close to the original that even the ad trailers fail to make it appear in any way exceptional, more filler than sequel. Coupling that with the highly predictable ending rather than anything in the way of a surprise, and you’d think the filmmakers would at least provide a fun musical number or clever credit sequence similar to the original…but again it falls short.

If you’re into lighthearted Halloween fun, spooky pop-culture references, and/or just couldn’t get enough of the Drac-Pack, this was made for you. If you were hoping for something more, well, maybe we can see that in the inevitable third movie. Any ideas? A family vacation in Death Valley? The Drac-Pack Meets Scooby-Doo? C’mon guys! Can’t we try a little harder than a gag-filled outline? It only took Men In Black three times to knock it out of the park.

(a two and a half skull recommendation out of four)

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