Sony Pictures Animation welcomes you back to “Hotel Transylvania” with a sequel to their 2012 all-star “monster” comedy. Unfortunately, you may not want to check-in, as “HT2” suffers from a scattered script and uneven pacing (aka the Adam Sandler Syndrome).
Sandler earned high marks for his voice performance of Dracula in the original “Hotel Transylvania”, doing a updated, but still honorable impression of the iconic character. For this follow-up, Sandler took on duties of co-writer – and his fingerprints are all over the too-thin story with very little comic bite. And this time Dracula sounds a lot more like Sandler – maybe because he gave himself a lot more lines.
As the film begins Dracula’s daughter Mavis (voiced nicely by Selena Gomez) and human boyfriend Johnny (Andy Samberg) are getting married. Flash forward a year and Mavis is pregnant. Flash again – little Dennis arrives. And with one final flash Dennis is about to turn 5 – and no one still knows whether he’s a human boy or a vampire. And Drac is worried. If Dennis doesn’t get his fangs by his birthday, he’ll stay a human forever, and Mavis and Johnny will move to California to live near his parents.
Parts of “HT2” work quite well – including pockets from an extended section in which Dracula rounds-up fellow monsters Frankenstein, The Mummy, the Werewolf and the Invisible Man to re-live their glory days and show Dennis how to be scary. Problem is he and his buddies have become too “humanized”, and the modern world has softened them up. Meantime, Dennis’ biggest inspirations are Batman and his favorite TV character, the puppet “Cake Monster” – a friendly jab at a certain, blue Sesame Street creature. Unfortunately, there aren’t enough of these clever elements to keep the laughs coming for 90 minutes.
As you’d expect the animation is strong and a few aerial sequences (though simply included as time-fillers) are visually impressive. But Sandler, co-writer Robert Smigel and director Genndy Tartakovsky, jammed-in way too many one-liners, satirical references and silly gags, and most have no pay off. Clearly a case of quantity over quality – another recent Sandler trademark.
The casting of Mel Brooks as Dracula’s father Vlad was perfect, but saving him for the final 15 minutes and giving him almost nothing to do was yet another mistake. On The Official LCJ Report Card, “Hotel Transylvania 2” gets a C.
Running Time: 89 min.