Hotel Transylvania 2: Top Notch Visuals & Family Humor But Falls Short of First Film [Review]

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It’s amazing what the right hype can do for a movie, even if you don’t want it to.  Even if you’re aware of how it works so and think yourself immune.  I saw the trailer for Hotel Transylvania 2 once a week for probably two months and by the time it came around actually showing, I was dying to see it.  Who knew I was so gullible?  Sony Pictures, apparently.

hotel_transylvania_two_ver4_xlgDracula and his friends try to bring out the monster in his half human, half vampire grandson in order to keep Mavis from leaving the hotel.

Hotel Transylvania 2 hits so many right notes for me.  For one thing, it’s colourful.   The entire thing was absolutely wonderful to behold.    I love animation, I love monsters and this movie was funny.
The voice acting was amazing.   If they’d somehow managed to wrangle a shirtless Channing Tatum in there (alas they did not), I might have had no choice but to give this five stars.

hoteltrans0003_0For months I’d held this theory that all movies had to be beautiful because film has become a visual genre.  Then I saw some good movies that were not beautiful (The Visit, for one) and realized that not all movies had to be pretty.  But it’s so good when they are, it makes watching a  movie so much better.  The character design in particular (the whole point of animation) was top notch.   One test to see if character design is good is this:  would you be able to recognize each and every character in silhouette?   If the answer is yes then chances are it has good character design.

This movie was so well written.  Sure there are hiccups (I’m coming to that) but it has the basics down.  It poses a question simple enough to be laid out in the trailer and keeps us guessing the whole way through.  Will Little Dennis be a monster like his mom or a human like his dad?  If he’s a monster he gets to stay with all his friends but then his grandfather’s prejudices will turn out to be justified.  If he’s human then he’ll have to move out of the castle and settle for a smaller, more boring, world.   Family expectations, fitting in, finding where you belong and IF you belong, these are universal experiences.  And unlike so many movies that do the same and then falter at the end, this one comes down firmly on one side in a satisfying and believable way.  And it captures (indeed exaggerates as only animated fantasy can) many aspects of family life perfectly.

Hotel-Transylvania-2-3Which is why, with the fundamentals so good, this movie could still fit in so much bad writing.  There are unfunny jokes, scenes that fall flat and moments that don’t belong.  The characters, fresh and original in the first one, are caricatures of themselves in this sequel.  Some jokes are overplayed.  Plus the pacing was off, it was too slow in places.  I think that was because it was missing a sub plot – there wasn’t much outside the main plot and it seemed like there wasn’t quite enough to fill 89 minutes.

I don’t know if I would see this movie again.  Once you know what’s going to happen it really doesn’t have a lot more to offer so in its way this is Movie Chinese Food.  But it’s worth seeing and I would want to show it to some friends of mine who I know could relate to some of the family humor, of which there is a lot.  It probably goes without saying but I liked the first one better.

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