Hotel Transylvania 2

Is No Place to Stay

Dracula movies have their own appeal and Hotel Transylvania 2 is not likely to be the last one that will ever be made. However, it is unlikely that anyone will be hankering to see this movie more than once. In fact, Fortune’s in-house film critic compares this animeted movie to the worst of last week’s international news stories. As a sequel, Hotel Transylvania 2  follows threads from the original but those threads seem to offer little that excites. Dracula’s daughter who has married a human being and birthed a son is not named. The one ‘admirable’ feature seems to be Mel Brooks’ voice. Not even the 3D factor gets a rave review but is positively mentioned so three stars for 3D is the conclusion.

The world seems to be in perpetual agony. Horror is always around us and it is unlikely to cease anytime soon. Nonetheless, and even though some might find this impossible to believe, Earth, at present, is at its most peaceful. Just to make clear how violent Earth’s past history has been, let me innumerate some of the most distressing news just this week.

To begin with, there is the on-going war in Syria which Russia aggravated by giving Assad, not just enough ammunition, but military manpower to bomb his innocent civilians. There is also the immigration problem in Europe which at the moment seems impossible to bring to a satisfying halt. Across the Atlantic, in the US, there is a fresh mass shooting that has left nine people dead, and in the Middle East, in Afghanistan, the country’s 5th biggest city (Kunduz) has just been retaken by the Taliban. To round it all up and further frustrate our inconsequential existence, there is a new Adam Sandler movie.

I apologise if the above seemed a bit grotesque (South Park fans will love it) but I believe it shows just how tired I am of Sandler and his usual garbage. Fortunately, there is some consolation since we do not have to physically put up with him for two theatre hours, only an animated version of himself.

Sandler reprises his (voice) role as Count Dracula in Hotel Transylvania 2, the sequel to the 2012 film of the same name. The fact that his character is known to haunt his victims by night is a welcome contrast to the fact that Sandler haunts us by appearing in and writing movies. In the 2012 film, we learned that in the franchise world, Dracula owns a hotel exclusively for monsters. But a human accidently found it, Dracula’s daughter fell in love with the human (much to Drac’s chagrin) and everything changed.

In this film, Drac becomes a grandpa (“vampa”) but starts grappling with the fact that his grandson – born of an interspecies intercourse between a vampire and a human being (some parents might consider this film inappropriate for kids) – might turn out to be a human. If audiences had thought that Dracula had got over his Homo sapiens phobia in the first film, they should think again.

So the film, essentially, is a conglomeration of a series of gags documenting Dracula’s struggle to show his four year old grandson that a monster’s life style is much cooler than that of a human being’s. And he must accomplish this before his open minded vampire daughter can find out about it. No plot, just a series of numerous, unfunny punch lines whose only purpose is to last 89 minutes and warrant being called a feature film.

Sandler – in addition to providing the protagonist’s voice – is also the film’s co-writer. Furthermore, since we get Sandler we also get his usual band of so-so comedian’s such as Kevin James and David Spade. None of this people, or the other voice actors, are essential in their roles – anyone else, you or me, could have easily done their jobs – except, of course, for Mel Brooks  who plays Dracula’s father, Vlad. Comedy maestro Brooks, probably chosen for the part as a sort of homage on the filmmakers’ part, has done more for the evolution of comedy movies in Hollywood than most, and here, providing his calming, grandfatherly voice, is the only thing about this film that is admirable.

Transylvania 2 is such a huge step down from last week’s excellent Sicario, that I kind of bruised my knee (or was it my artistic sensibility?). But that is an outrageous comparison as the two movies could not be more different from each other. So let us compare Hotel Transylvania 2 to another animated movie released not long ago – Inside Out, which is easily one of the greatest movies ever made. A kind of psychological film full of layers as it is full of fun. A film for the family in its fullest term; less because it is the kind of movie that is simple in narrative and more because it is the kind of film that has something to say to everyone that watches it. A film that deserves a place at the cinematic status that Pixar’s greatest 2000’s animated movies (Wall-E, Ratatouille, Finding Nemo, Toy Story 3, Up, The Incredibles) and other great animated films that were made without the companies insistence (Miyazaki’s Spirited Away and the Iranian Persepolis) share. Hotel Transylvania 2, in comparison, and in Bukowski’s words, is not even a thumbprint on the window of a skyscraper.

What is unacceptable about Transylvania 2, aside from its abysmal quality, is the price of admission. The film is in 3D for the only reason that most animated movies this days are usually in 3D. As children make up a significant portion of the audience, and the film does not have a good story to offer, or any type of novelty to showoff, the least it can do is bid for some sense of fashion. The current style is that blockbusters are in 3D (not good 3D, but any type of 3D, as long as it is impossible to watch without 3D glasses) and that is all Transylvania 2 has got going on for it.


By Christian Tesfaye
Special to Fortune

Published on Oct 12,2015 [ Vol 16 ,No 806]



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