‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ disappoints, maintains strong animation
October 1, 2015
Dracula and his buds are back again in “Hotel Transylvania 2” to help Drac’s grandson realize the monster that he is, and with that comes another mixed bag of an animated film that has everything but the bite.
You might find the plot of this film a bit different from the previous. Dracula is ecstatic that his vampire daughter Mavis is married to her human beloved Johnny, and it seems that all is fine now that Dracula has accepted humans. But with the birth of his grandson, that prejudice may not be extinguished just yet.
His grandson is fast-growing and not appearing to show signs of being a vampire, and Mavis thinks her son might live better outside Transylvania. So the race is on for Drac and his friends to prove that his grandson really does have a monster inside him, and along the way they may realize that the idea of a monster is changing along with the child.
The “Hotel Transylvania” films have always presented a dilemma for me. On the one hand is the creative distinction of the director, Genndy Tartakovsky, who created such beloved cartoons such as “Dexter’s Laboratory” and one of my favorite series of all time, “Samurai Jack.”
On the other hand, his first foray into filmmaking resulted in a work that was filled with colorful character designs and amazing, squashing and stretching movements, but nearly gutted in the plot and joke department.
This is the problem that permeates both “Hotel Transylvania 2” and its previous incarnation.
It becomes very clear from watching the film that the animation skills of Tartakovsky are the only part of him being used here. An interview from Cartoon Brew revealed that he had less creative control this time around for the sequel, but it also implied he was able to have his fun animating.
That is one thing the film does well, in that it is extremely animated. All the characters move fluidly and are extremely expressive in their facial expressions. Tartakovsky’s team carried over the great animation from the previous film and makes it a real treat to see.
But then we have the plot and jokes, courtesy of Adam Sandler and the puppeteer for “Triumph the Insult Comic Dog.” The jokes in the film run the gambit from easy-to-make, to lame, and to just plain awkwardly-delivered.
Even more pervasive this time around was the advertising, which seemed to come through much more this time. Be prepared to see references to Sony products everywhere in this film, along with food items that were most likely tied into the film.
Weak plot, bad jokes, and hapless advertising made some parts of this film hard to listen to. I found myself in the weird situation where I wanted to mute the dialogue of the characters and only let the animation speak for itself. Tartakovsky certainly made it feel like that could have been done, but alas this isn’t going to be on DVD for a while and my patience with this film is already tried.
Aside from those aspects, “Hotel Transylvania 2” does at least bring the acting around well enough. Sandler still surprisingly works as Dracula and makes him sound entertaining, and even his supporting actors from before carry things well. The new additions to the film, though, such as bringing in Mel Brooks and Nick Offerman as characters are hit and miss.
Mel Brooks, a legend in film comedy, could have used more screen time as his character, and Nick Offerman’s character is the biggest offense, not even taking a lot of advantage of his signature deadpan.
It’s for these many reasons that it’s hard for me to recommend “Hotel Transylvania 2” in good faith. If you really must, try it muted, or find a version that cuts out dialogue; you might be surprised by how it works. But as it stands, the film is another example of how low standards in one department of a film can certainly lead to a less than satisfying work; even worse when knowing it could have been so much more.
Ryan Funes is a lover of all things movie, TV, video games and stories and wants to become a television writer someday. In his spare time he enjoys hanging with friends, tapping into his imagination, and watching cartoons of all kinds.