Saturday, February 6, 2016

Hotel Transylvania 2

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion (or other commenters), that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching!  Unlike the Hotel California, you can check out anytime you like and actually get to leave.

Hotel Transylvania 2 – 3 out of 5

I saw the first film on a whim while spending Halloween with my niece and nephew when it came out in the theaters in 2012 and found it to be surprisingly fun.  I didn’t think it would end up getting a sequel but, like all animated features, it got its second film last year.  I watched the trailer and thought that it looked like it could be enjoyable.  So, did I enjoy Hotel Transylvania 2 as much as the first one?  Well, if you checked the link to the first one and compared the scores I gave that one to this one, you already know your answer…but you can read on anyway.

Darn it, that kid is cute.

It's a little weird that they chose this way to tell
Dracula they were pregnant.
Okay, so Mavis (Selena Gomez) and Jonathan (Andy Samberg), after having their ordeal in the first film and falling in love, have gotten married and announced to Mavis’ father, Dracula (Adam Sandler), that they are going to have a baby.  After their child—Dennis (voiced by Asher Blinkoff)—is born, Dracula becomes preoccupied with whether or not he’s going to be a monster or a human.  However, Mavis is too much of an overprotective parent for Drac to test him so, when he and Jonathan come up with a plan to get her to visit with her in-laws, he takes his grandson on a journey with his friends: Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the invisible man (David Spade), Murray the mummy (Keegan-Michael Key—who replaced CeeLo Green in the role) and Blobby the blob (Jonny Solomon).  Dracula hopes this trip will get Dennis to “pop his fangs”—which actually sounds like slang for doing dope but whatevs—but his plan could backfire if Mavis finds out or, even worse, Dracula’s father; Vlad (Mel Brooks), learns that his granddaughter married a human and his great grandson might be a human.

Okay, I really like the fact that Jonathan's best man is his backpack.

For the most part, Hotel Transylvania 2 is a mildly entertaining animated film and a serviceable sequel to a feature that I really enjoy.  Like the previous film, there’s a large cast all doing their characters very well, there’s some decent gags here and there, and the animation still looks really good.  Even better is the talented Genndy Tartakovsky returning to direct.  Is it better than the first one?  No, not at all.  In fact, in many ways, the film is noticeably weaker and has the feel of a Direct-to-DVD movie—in the sense that the writing felt a lot lazier than the first one and it is a major reason why the film has some flaws.

One of those flaws wasn't Griffin the invisible man.  He was great.

The only returning writer from the previous film is Robert Smigel and, for this one, he is joined by Adam Sandler.  It might be unfair to put all the blame on Sandler but one of the biggest problems I had with this film was that a lot of the jokes are terrible unfunny.  Too often gags are thrown into the film that feel very out-of-place and are more non sequitur in nature than directly related to the story or characters.  Characters will do random things that have no real context to the events unfolding and these jokes give off a vibe of cheap throwaway gags.  This type of formula is seen often in Adam Sandler’s live-action comedies where the jokes come not from the scene itself or the character’s interaction or what is happening to them but, rather, are completely random nonsense that makes the whole thing feel like the jokes were done as an afterthought and not as something intentional for the final product.  This happens a lot in Hotel Transylvania 2 and it makes me wonder if these jokes were created by Sandler and the stronger areas and gags of the film—the parts where the humor is pulled from the circumstances and the character’s defining attributes and mythology—were created by Robert Smigel.  Still, at the end of the day, the bad jokes in this film aren’t nearly as bad as what you’d see in something like Grown Ups 2…except maybe the part where Dracula is told to use Bluetooth and literally calls out for a walking tooth that is blue—that joke was physically painful to endure.

Words can't express how bad this joke was.

As bad as this film can get, it's still better than trying
to sit through the Western Sandler did for Netflix.
I tried twice and failed.
There’s also a ton of lazy development that comes with the characters and the plot that ends up making this film pale in comparison to the previous one.  For example, Dracula’s friends, at first, are all for helping him turn Dennis into a monster and seeing the kid embrace the “old ways” but then will quickly flip and realize that times have changed and they are not the monsters they once were.  Then there’s the problem with talking about the great grandfather of Vlad at the beginning of the movie and establishing a potential conflict he could create and then not bothering to bringing to bring him in until there's barely a half an hour left in the film.  His presence offers up some great conflict and a potential for Dracula to grow and learn his lesson as a character but Vlad is simply brought in too late and it makes for some very lazy conflict resolution.  In fact, the movie in general contains a lot of lazy conflict resolution as even Vlad learns his lesson in a flash and all the pieces fall into place very quickly and just in time to do the very predictable and horrible cliché trope of the animated film world (especially in non-Pixar films):  The pre-credits sequence where all the characters are dancing to a pop song.

I think it's just a legal requirement to end animated films this way now.

At this point, you are probably saying, “Rev., this is a kid’s movie and your talk about conflict resolution, character development and hating on a bad Bluetooth humor is pointless because this wasn’t made for you, it was made for kids and they don’t care if it makes sense or if it’s dumb.”  I won’t disagree with you there.  Kids don’t care if bad writing rears its ugly head but we live in a time where animated films aren’t just colorful distractions for kids anymore and they are allowed to have great writing that brings in well-crafted and deep stories that are filled with dynamic characters, so having something that is just farted out with bottom of the barrel jokes that are just thrown in and not grown organically through the action—especially when the first one had that and proved to be a lot of fun—it just kinda stinks.

You know, I won't even bother raising the question of how the undead
are creating children in the first place. 

I don’t want to sit here and make it sound like I hated Hotel Transylvania 2 because that’s not the case.  As you can see from my score, I thought the film was pretty average and overall decent in its entertainment.  It definitely felt a whole lot weaker than the first film but it still has some very solid moments—Griffin the invisible man, in my opinion, had some of the funniest parts.  The animation and the direction from the very talented Genndy Tartakovsky is also excellent but the film does falter due to some very sloppy storytelling.

Blobby also had some great moments in the film.  You can't forget to include Blobby.

1 comment:

  1. Yes! Hotel Trans 2 was an adequate follow up but holy crap was it not as enjoyable. You're right, it is very noticeable in its execution. Also before seeing the credits I guessed Sandler had gotten his hand in the writing because there was potty humor in this! The first had little to none. Ugh, least for this series, Sandler should just stick to voicing drac. And yeah,...your right about the pregnant reveal,...a bit awkward and especially since this is a kids (& family) movie.


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