† H a p p y H a l l o w e e n †
I’m sure Adam Sandler hopes we can forget that Pixels ever happened after the release of this film. As do we; I pointed out when I reviewed the first Hotel Transylvania that the medium of animated film is where Sandler most likely belongs. He can do character voices and be cartoony in an apt sense (as in, not in a live-action comedy where he’s just doing it in a desperate attempt to induce laughter), but admittedly only do so really well if an animation genius such as Genndy Tartakovsky is in charge, lest we have another Eight Crazy Nights. The less said about that one, the better.
Sandler once again voices Dracula, proprietor of Hotel Transylvania, where supernatural beings from across the globe come to ease up and have fun. His young, 125-year-old daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) has now married and had her first child with the human boy she met in the previous film, Jonathan (Andy Samberg). Much to Dracula’s dismay, however, the child seems to have inherented more of Jonathan’s human genes than he has the vampire genes of Mavis, lacking any signs of growing fangs or having a taste for blood.
Dracula thus takes it upon himself to train the child, Dennis, to become a monster whilst Mavis and Jonathan travel to California to meet with Jonathan’s parents, voiced by Nick Offerman and Megan Mullaly. Funny scenes ensue as Mavis has to get on the good side of her in-laws plus comprehend the human world.
Meanwhile, Dracula enlists the help of some old friends – Frankenstein’s monster (Kevin James), Wayne the Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the Invisible Man (David Spade), a Blob, and Murray the mummy (CeeLoo Green) – to make Dennis more of a true vampire. Later on, Dracula is also visited by his ancient father Vlad, voiced by none other than Mel Brooks, who resents humans and might thus have just the thing to “fix” Dennis. There’s also Fran Drescher as the wife of Frankenstein’s monster, even though nobody wants to hear her voice in anything ever.
And yes, I know they call him Frankenstein in the film instead of Frankenstein’s monster. The least they could have done is ask Mel Brooks how it’s actually pronounced (“Fronkensteen”, of course) now that he’s in the cast. I’d also like to know why his character Vlad has Brooks’ recognizable Jewish accent whereas Sandler’s character naturally has an accent like that of Bela Lugosi, though something tells me I’m not supposed to care.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is pretty hard not to smile during. The animation is once again fast-paced and the art style is beautifully colored. Sometimes it might be a little too fast and hard to follow, yet there’s still something so likable about this film’s consistent energy and the way all the characters move, talk and interact. It goes along exceedingly well with the film’s sense of humor, giving it a certain energy and almost being funny enough on its own thanks to how uniquely the characters are designed and how their body language alone is fun to watch, but the first-rate voice acting doesn’t exactly hurt.
Outside of that, there are a few gags that are purely eye-rolling (some of the references to modern social media felt mildly forced) or just don’t hit the mark, not that anyone is probably expecting this movie to be perfect comedy incarnate. At the end of the day, most of the film works, and one can tell that this is a movie that will do so for viewers of all ages. There’s decent slapstick and visual gags for the kids, some more macabre and intelligent gags for older viewers, and great imagery for both, with animation that breeds not only the comedy I’ve already mentioned, but also a series of surprisingly touching and damn near tear-jerking moments.
This is shown as early on as in the opening scene where Mavis is getting married to Jonathan as Dracula looks down the aile and we see him picture her as a small girl in a wedding dress. It’s a genuinely heartfelt visual and the scene features no dialogue either, communicating only via the imagery and the music. I am glad the film dares to have scenes like that because audiences of all ages would grow tired if it was all fast-paced comedy all the time. The man behind Dexter’s Laboratory still got it.
I’ve never found these movies great, but they are innocent, enjoyable and hard to outright dislike for any particular reason. They’re sweet and inoffensive but smart and funny at the same time, never feeling too dumbed down or too wannabe-edgy. I dare say I laughed even more during this one than I did the first. In a way, it is refreshing to look at a movie like this when the last film I reviewed for my horror marathon was Poultrygeist. It’s nice to go back to something wholesome every now and then.