Hotel Transylvania 2 (2D)
Cert: U / 89 mins / Dir. Genndy Tartakovsky / Trailer
Back in 2012, the first Hotel Transylvania flick had its work cut out somewhat, as it was dropped into the same release slot as ParaNorman and Frankenweenie, both of which enjoyed their ghoulish heritage much more overtly, and both of which also played with heavier themes. This year, however, the Robert Smigel/Adam Sandler-penned sequel has a clear run at the box office, so how does it fare?
The answer is better than last time, if just as blandly, somehow. The main drawback seems to be that the film's 'spooky' setting is just that, rather than a technique to frame a more layered story. Primarily a comedy, the slapstick moments are well timed and executed, but the rest of the humour relies on Addams/Munsters-level punnery, much of which has been done before, elsewhere and with the tongue more firmly in the cheek. The family-audience I sat with guffawed heartily at the film's more riotous scenes, but anything calmer than those (which is the majority of the film) left them worryingly silent.
That said, the film dabbles at bringing some subtext to the party with slightly heavy-handed and faintly insincere themes of xenophobia and cross-generational relevance. They're pretty much slapped down on the table and not pondered over to deeply, but fair play to Smigel and Sandler for having them there at all. The idea that Dracula is still actually running a hotel is largely an afterthought this time round too, presumably because all of those gags were done to death in the first film. Again, credit where it's due, since I'd rather have it fleetingly referenced than a rehash of what went before. Taking the action away from the castle and into the outside world allows it to breathe more than its predecessor could.
Ultimately, Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn't do anything remotely new, but nor does it do anything too badly, which is where it scores its marks. Definitely a film for the younger crowd, there's nothing particularly spooky in there, more what a marketing committee thinks spooky should look like if you want to upset absolutely no-one. Like a Tim Burton cover-version with all the sass and the kitsch stripped away.
As harmlessly enjoyable as it all is, the film loses a point for Sony's shoehorning in of their own branded products whenever a mobile phone or television are on-screen, which is far too often. Shameful product-placement*1 (yet paradoxically shameless in its implementation).
One thing's for sure though: as Adam Sandler in the digital realm goes, the pixels of Hotel Transylvania 2 are far, far easier to stomach than the pixels of Pixels…
Oh, God no.
This is a Sunday afternoon DVD.
[Even if the words "Blu Ray Disc" are inserted into the film's script with the same deftness and subtlety as the Sony products. There's nothing here that will be lost by watching the film in standard-def.]
With the best will in the world, I should hope not.
Director Genndy Tartakovsky was also the man behind the 2D-animated Star Wars: Clone Wars series.
*1 Although I'm also genuinely amazed at the Sony-film's numerous references to 'Batman' and 'Batmobile', which are owned by Warner Bros (although these are scripted lines only, there's nothing visual and no intellectual property lines are crossed).
• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
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• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.