Afternoon stargazers. I decided to forego my Panning the Stream column this week, partly to bring you something new, partly because Time Warner service has been annoyingly spotty recently. Mostly though, I had a milestone weekend when I took my three-year-old son to the movie theater for the first time. It would’ve happened sooner, but there was no way I was going to sit through Minions and Inside Out theme’s were too adult, and frankly dull, for him. Enter Hotel Transylvania 2.
Mavis (Selena Gomez), daughter of Dracula (Adam Sandler), marries her beloved Jonathan (Andy Samberg) and much to Drac’s delight, the two decide to live at Hotel Transylvania. A few years later, Mavis and Jonathan welcome their son, Dennis (Asher Blinkoff), or Dennisovitch to his dear ol’ Vampa (Vampire Grandpa, what’s not to get?). Nearly five years pass and all’s great, except Dennisovitch’s fangs haven’t sprouted much to Drac’s dismay. With the possibility that Dennis may be 100% human and her dad’s pressure to prove he’s all vampire, Mavis and Jonathan go to visit his parents Mike (Nick Offerman) and Linda (Megan Mullally), leaving Dennis under her dad’s care. With mommy away, Dracula assembles his crew, Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne (Steve Buscemi), Griffin (David Spade) and Murray (Keegan-Michael Key), to scare the fangs out of Dennis just like Drac’s dad Vlad (Mel Brooks) did to him.
Having never seen the original, I had no idea what to expect going into director Genndy Tartakovsky’s return to his debut franchise. Robert Smigel returns to script with assistance from our leading Vampa Adam Sandler. Their reunion set the September box office record with its debut of $47.5 million. which isn’t hard to do when it’s being released in both standard and 3D formats into a pool lacking of broad-appealing fare.
Would my son say it earned it’s acclaim? At three, he doesn’t concern himself with such details, but Hotel Transylavania 2 held his attention, but did not draw spontaneous laughter from him at any point the way some older fare has done in the comfort of our home. He watched intently, occasionally squirming much like he does when we queue up various kids shows via Netflix. I also squirmed a good bit, but mainly out of impatience.
Hotel Transylvania 2 is a middling offering and, from what I’ve read, follows the sequel formula of “more of the same, but different.” I can’t speak on its shameless rehashing, but I can tell you what bugged me most; the voices. The cast is mostly comprised of actors I’ve found funny in a variety of film and television roles. It doesn’t mean I want to hear them as THESE characters. In fact hearing Sandler, James, Spade and Buscemi only brought back memories of the horrid Grown Ups franchise wherein Sandler and his buddies go on vacation and film it for money. I’m guessing the Hotel Transylvania franchise is their chance to hang out in a sound booth much for the same reason. They gave voice to their characters, but their was only an occasional glimpse of animated life from those voices.
The film’s need to stumble from the wedding to pregnancy to parenthood also seemed lengthy and unnecessary. There was a lot about Drac’s dilemma over what his grandson will be, but little in the way of kooky antics to distract from the message of acceptance.
It wasn’t so bad that I am ashamed to have chosen it as my child’s first foray into big screen entertainment. I am certain I will spend many afternoons in the coming years pulling out my hair as I sit through films he is doing backflips to see. That comes with being a parent. That said, if your kid isn’t chomping at the bit to see this, do both yourselves a favor and wait.