As a parent, there are certain things one must do, one of which is see the sorts of movies one would rather not see, without squashing the enthusiasm of the young ‘uns who want to see them. Without much enthusiasm for the original Hotel Transylvania, it came to pass that a sequel was made (of course) and the Barbarienne was all abuzz to see it.
It’s not great. It’s a stretch to even call it good, much like the original—but it actually won me over fairly quickly and I ended up liking to more than the original. The RT critics also liked it more, and the initial audience score was a whopping 88%—now down to a more plausible 69%, suggesting to me (for the umpteenth time) that studios buy blocks of positive movie reviews on all the review sites.
The plot this time is that Mavis and Johnny have a baby, which is handled with more sensitivity than you might expect, and Drac is excited at the prospect of baby Dennis going full-fledged vampire. Problem is, Dennis is a “slow fanger” and is reaching his fifth birthday, beyond which point, apparently, if he doesn’t have fangs, he’ll never have them and end up being a miserable, stinking human for the rest of his mortal life.
This leads to a series of gag setups that ultimately bemoan the coddling of the modern child, which can only be considered scathingly ironic given the benign state of the monsters in the film.
That aside, a lot of the gags work, at least to some degree. There’s a lot less frantic talking and some nice montages (which I largely attribute to director Tartakovsky), and the material is much less gross than you might think. There might have been a stinky diaper bit in there somewhere, e.g., but I don’t recall it. At the end, I marveled at the absence of fart jokes.
None of it makes a lick of sense, of course. If you imagine the story teams at Pixar, Disney, Dreamworks and Laika slaving over the storyboards for years tackling logical problems, consistent character development, coherent story arcs—well, it takes a lot bigger imagination to do that here.
The ending seems to fly in the face of the entire rest of the film to that point, opting for a big action scene instead of a big emotional one. Probably a smart move, but not a very cohesive one. I didn’t hate it as much as I thought I would, but it was more of a sort of shrugging “oh, well” rather than an artistic argument being won.
Well, look, my expectations were quite low going in and they were exceeded. Good enough. The voice crew is largely the same bunch of SNL veterans as the last one, with Keegan Michael-Key replacing Cee Lo Green as the Mummy (who cares, really?), Jon Lovitz playing the Phantom rather than the Hunchback, and Dana Carvey joining in as Dana, the camp counselor. They’ve got some good lines but there’s not really enough room in this film for anyone to breathe and create a character.
It’s mostly just Sandler, Samberg, and Gomez playing off each other in a very traditional family comedy sort of way. Mel Brooks turns up as a Nosferatu-ish grandfather in a nice turn that doesn’t really go anywhere. And Sandler’s got his kids in voice roles, so they’ve got that going for them.
I think I saw it in the perfect mindset: With a really eager kid and very low expectations, and I can recommend it under the same circumstances for others. The Barbarienne loved it, natch.