Friday, October 30, 2015

Unremarkable Sequelland: Hotel Transylvania 2.

The Good: Decent-enough animation and performances
The Bad: Overbearing soundtrack, Not funny, Nothing compelling or original in the plot or characters
The Basics: Hotel Transylvania 2 unremarkably strings together random jokes about monsters to continue the franchise in an unimpressive way.

As a reviewer, I see a lot of movies and one of the real tests of a film's endurance is how well the viewer remembers it when and if a sequel is made. With the release of Hotel Transylvania 2, I got to thinking about Hotel Transylvania (reviewed here!). I know I saw the first Hotel Transylvania, but it was so utterly unmemorable that as the sequel began, I realized I could not recall a single moment from the original. Hotel Transylvania 2 leaps right in, so those not invested in the characters from the first one are likely to find the new movie somewhat inaccessible.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is an odd blend of monster jokes mixed with the non-sequitor of monsters talking about ridiculous or pop-culture things. So, people are supposed to find it hilarious when Dracula kvetches about "good fats" or Wayne the werewolf refuses to hunt because Pop-Tarts make killing animals unnecessary. At the other end, Mavis's journey almost entirely consists of her shock at seeing the mundane aspects of the human world - like the variety of potato chips and 24 hour gas station/convenience stores. The result is a thoroughly lackluster film.

Opening with the wedding of Mavis and Johnny, the daughter of Dracula and her human boyfriend, the Hotel Transylvania is packed with monsters and Jonathan's very unsettled human parents. The wedding goes off without a hitch and a year later, Mavis tells Dracula she is pregnant while the two are out flying as bats. Soon after, Dennis is born and appears to be human. While Dennis is growing up, Johnny tries to get Dracula to use social media and technology like smartphones. Dracula begins to worry that Dennis is not learning how to be a proper vampire and tries to get the boy to activate his powers, to no avail. After Dennis goes to a birthday party for a litter of werewolf pups and loses a tooth there, Mavis suspects that Dennis is not actually a monster and she tells her father that she is thinking of moving away to a place that will be safer for her young son.

Mavis and Johnny head to California to see if it will be an appropriate place to raise Dennis, while Dracula and the monsters take Dennis to try to get him into real monster culture. Unfortunately, the trip to the dark forest reveals that it is now a park filled with suburbanites on vacation. While Mavis is thrilled by exploring the human world with Johnny, the monsters try to teach Dennis how to be monstrous, but they run into adoring fans, physical problems like back spasms, and the monsters' refusal to be truly monstrous. The monsters make it to the camp where Dracula learned to be monstrous as Mavis makes it to the California suburb where both discover that things are not as they remember or want.

Much of Hotel Transylvania 2 is a series of shtick jokes with monster subjects or "values" used to replace the mundane subjects. The concept gets very old exceptionally quickly and given that lines like "stake my heart and hope to die" from Dracula barely elicit a smile the first time around, it's hard to imagine how the studio thought this would perform well. Hotel Transylvania 2 feels like a direct-to-video sequel that has the voice talents from the first project, but predictably lacks a compelling story or jokes that make it a worthy continuation of the characters' journey.

The voice performances in Hotel Transylvania 2 are fine, but nothing extraordinary. Selena Gomez does fine as Mavis, but she's not given any challenges that would allow her to be particularly expressive. Adam Sandler and Andy Samberg play Dracula and Johnny as very minor variations on their previously-established characters. Sandler, especially, falls into a voice that is particularly generic for his shtick.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is marred by an overbearing pop music soundtrack as much as it is by characters who utterly unremarkable. The story is painfully generic and if the characters were not monsters, it's hard to imagine the movie ever would have been made. Within minutes of finishing the film, I realized that there was no defining moment that stuck with me. It is a forgettable sequel for a forgettable film.

Hotel Transylvania 2 is utterly unnecessary; The Addam's Family and The Munsters have done all these types of jokes before and there's nothing so compelling about the characters, animation or plot to make this feel at all worthwhile.

For other works with or by Selena Gomez, please visit my reviews of:
The Fundamentals Of Caring
Revival (Deluxe Edition)
The Big Short
Behaving Badly
For You - Selena Gomez & The Scene
Stars Dance
When The Sun Goes Down - Selena Gomez & The Scene
A Year Without Rain - Selena Gomez & The Scene
Kiss & Tell - Selena Gomez & The Scene
Horton Hears A Who!


For other movie reviews, please check out my Film Review Index Page for an organized listing!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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