It was interesting to see the original Hotel Transylvania remain such an entertaining and fun movie, especially looking at a lot of Adam Sandler’s output over the past decade. Sandler not only voiced Dracula in the movie, but he wrote it, which makes me wonder how he can write such a great story for an animated film, but hasn’t really written a true comedy classic for himself in a long time. But, the story of Dracula’s daughter falling in love with a human and the human eventually winning over Dracula really worked well.
I think a lot of that might be thanks to director Genndy Tartakovsky. For those who don’t know, Tartakovsky is a pure genius when it comes to directing and developing animated features. Remember Dexter’s Laboratory? That was Tartakovsky. Remember the original Powerpuff Girls? That was Tartakovsky. The cult classic that was Samurai Jack was Tartakovsky. So was Star Wars: Clone Wars. The guy is brilliant and Hotel Transylvania benefitted from his involvement.
That made the news that Tartakovsky was returning for Hotel Transylvania 2 such good news. So, the question now is – was it as good as the original movie? The answer is that no, it wasn’t as good as the first movie, but was still funny and really picked up towards the end to result in a fun time at the movies.
Hotel Transylvania 2 picks up at the wedding of Mavis and Jonathan. All the monsters are there for the wedding, and joining the cast is Mavis’ family, including his mom and dad, voiced by the amazing true-life comedy couple Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman. Most of the first part of the movie, with the wedding and the impending pregnancy is just a series of events and that is where the movie really stumbles off to a start.
Mavis tells her dad that she is pregnant and then the movie jumps to various events along the way where Dracula hopes that the baby is a vampire and not a human. Then, Dennis is born and the movie continues to just randomly jump through time until he is about to turn five. The entire disjointed feel of the movie hurts with this method as it just seems like random events with no real focus outside of Dracula wanting a vampire grandson.
At this point, Mavis starts to think that she wants to move to Santa Cruz, where Jonathan grew up at, to get Dennis around normal kids. This is despite the fact that these normal kids bully and pick on Dennis. She thinks he will fit in better with these kids, rather than the wolf pups who love him and accept him without caring that he is may not even be a monster. It makes her story very tacked on, and the fact that Jonathan doesn’t want to leave Transylvania makes her seem dominating and unlikeable.
That finally leads to the best part of the movie. Dracula and Jonathan convince Mavis to go see Santa Cruz and leaves Dennis behind. The plan is that Dracula will show Dennis how the monsters really live to try to scare the fangs out of Dennis’ mouth. The problem is that most vampires develop fangs by the age of five and Dennis is running out of time. It also doesn’t help that Mavis herself was a late bloomer, so no one knows if Dennis will even be a vampire or a human.
Once Mavis is out of the way, Dracula, Frankenstein, The Wolfman, Invisible Man, and Mummy head out with Dennis, as well as the gelatinous blob in tow, to take the kid for a tour of their old haunting grounds to try to force his fangs out. This leads to a lot of funny moments where the group realize that everything has changed since humans love monsters now and many of their old haunting grounds are now overly developed suburbs.
By the end, Dracula’s dad Vlad shows up, voiced by the wonderful Mel Brooks, and all hell breaks loose. From the moment that Mavis leaves to the end of the movie, we have a great story that races along and has some great moments of comedy and action. It is just too bad that it took so long to get there.
Everyone involved was on solid form. Wolfman still remains a constant source of entertainment, both from Steve Buscemi’s dry dialogue delivery to the animation showing that he is a beaten down old dog – when he isn’t excited by fetching balls. Both The Mummy and Invisible Man have grown tiresome by this chapter of the story, while Frankenstein still has his moments of fun.
The humor still comes from minor characters that most people won’t even remember the names of and the heart of the story is accepting someone for who they are, whether they are human, vampire, or unicorn. It is the heart that still makes Hotel Transylvania 2 a slight win, despite the skeleton plot through the first half of the movie.
Genndy Tartakovsky wasn’t as crisp in his pacing or directing as he was with the first film, but the news that Hotel Transylvania 3 will arrive without Tartakovsky as the director makes one wonder if this movie will be the last of any quality at all for the franchise. If you have kids, this movie is worth the time. If not, it is still worth catching at some point, even if you wait for home video.