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MOSTLY PHONED IN: ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’ squeaks by with Looney Tunes-inspired mayhem

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Though not a complete flop, ‘Hotel Transylvania’ entertains despite a tired script.

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road-weary soul with nothing left to lose, forced to make a choice that will ultimately impact his life and the lives of everyone he holds dear…

CHECKING OUT: While the material is often dated, time wasn’t wasted watching ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’. Courtesy photo

CHECKING OUT: While the material is often dated, time wasn’t wasted watching ‘Hotel Transylvania 2’. Courtesy photo

An earth-shattering tragedy that shakes every character to their core…

A love triangle that threatens to destroy the lives of those unable to quench their insatiable passion…

None of this is featured in the new animated film “Hotel Transylvania 2.”

Last week I spoke in depth about “Everest” and all the reasons it deserved to be seen in a movie theater: the size, the scope, the eye-fucking-visuals, the sensory overload surround-sound. “Everest” presented a number of strong arguments as to why audiences need to get out and plunk down $15 to see it on a ginormous screen. “Hotel Transylvania 2” would be the “Everest” antithesis. I can provide countless reasons to keep anyone from going to the cinema for this marginally amusing story. It just feels un-cinematic—like a movie with no reason to be released in theaters except for the fact that it made gobs of money.

I know what you’re thinking: “It’s another animated kids movie that Anghus is going to take great pleasure pissing all over.” No sir, no ma’am. It’s not that. “Hotel Transylvania  2” is actually the kind of animated movie I’ve been enjoying of late. It avoids schmaltzy sentimentality of all those painfully similar Pixar movies and just goes for the yuckity yucks.

Movies like “Hotel Transylvania 2” remind me of the old Warner Brothers cartoons of yesteryear: where Wile E. Coyote blows himself to smithereens while trying to catch the Roadrunner. We saw its content from animation legends like Friz Freleng. And I’m a fan of the silly cartoon: goofy antics, ridiculous pugilistic violence, and a complete abandonment of stalwart principles like gravity and physics.

“Hotel Transylvania 2” isn’t a bad movie by any stretch. It’s dumb fun with a few laughs to be had. The humor is squarely aimed at the 8-year-old and inner 8-year-old. We again meet up with Dracula (Adam Sandler) and his monstrous cronies, including The Wolfman (Steve Buscemi), Frankenstein (Kevin James) and the Invisible Man (David Spade). There’s a good cast of voice actors here doing their best to bring life to the material, which unfortunately feels as ancient and dated as the Mummy (Keegan Michael-Key). The jokes are stale. When the Invisible Man tells his friends he has an invisible girlfriend who isn’t really there, Frankenstein chimes in, “Oh, the one from Canada.”

The “Girlfriend in Canada” joke? Damn, son, that is old. I think even the 8-year-olds in the audience heard that one before. I realize movies like “Hotel Transylvania 2” are primarily made for young-uns, but most of the story and gags are phoned-in. I’m all for juvenile humor. I was just hoping for the kind that didn’t feel tired. Maybe that’s just the ramblings of a guy who has watched a lot of cartoons, but it’s my criticism, nonetheless.

The film is salvaged by a very spry cast of actors who are infinitely more entertaining when heard and not seen. Adam Sandler looks like a piece of worn leather in live-action outings like “Pixels,” but seems far more energetic and lively doing the voice work for Dracula. The same goes for guys like David Spade and Kevin James, who seem far less grating when only forced to hear them. Even Mel Brooks gets to join in the shenanigans.

My biggest complaint is how unpolished it is; the movie looks like shows seen on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon. The same goes for the story and script, which has a hit-to-miss joke ratio of a typical episode of “Spongebob Squarepants.”

Look, I’d be lying if I said “Hotel Transylvania 2” was a work of art. Far from it. It does precious little to separate itself from the typical cartoon. Still, I was entertained. I never felt bored or insulted. I enjoyed the character designs and the Looney Tunes-inspired mayhem. There was enough here to make me feel like my time hadn’t been wasted. For a kids film or an Adam Sandler movie, that’s about as close to a win as you’re going to get.

Hotel Transylvania 2
Two-and-a-half out of five stars
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg,
Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
Rating: PG

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