Hotel Transylvania 2 Review

hotel trans2Can we all pass around a petition or something that will tell Adam Sandler he should only make animated films?  But then again there was 8 Crazy Nights a while back so he is by no means a homerun in animated films either.  Still, his best films by far of the last decade have been the Hotel Transylvania movies.  That’s definitely damning by faint praise but it is nonetheless true.

It’s weird trying to write a review of Hotel Transylvania 2 because I had a good time watching it but I can’t think of a whole lot to say in its defense.  Does that ever happen to you?  You like something almost in spite of itself?

Well, Hotel Transylvania 2 picks up where the fun but forgettable first installment left off with Dracula’s (Sandler) daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) getting married to Johnny (Andy Samburg) and then having a little boy named Dennis or Denisovich as the Count likes to call him.

hoteltrans2-2The Count is a doting grandfather and loves Dennis but is constantly preoccupied on whether he is a vampire or not.  He is a ‘late fanger’ as they like to say and has till he is 5 to get his vampire fangs.  If he doesn’t then he, Mavis and Johnny will have to move back to California where Dennis can be safe.

hotel trans2-3Leaving Dennis with Count Mavis and Johnny go to California to check it out and meet his parents (Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally who should be cast in more voice work.  She’s great!).  Mavis is thrilled with all the nighttime 24 hour options in California.

Back at the hotel Count has his friends from the first film Frankenstein (Kevin James), Invisible Man (David Spade), Blobby, and Mummy (Keegan-Michael Key who evidently is in every comedy of 2015).  They decide to try and scare the fangs out of Dennis and take him on a vacation of their greatest haunts much to Mavis’ anger.

They also end up involving Count’s old school father Vlad (Mel Brooks who is underused in the film)

hotel trans2-5That’s basically the plot.  It’s a silly comedy but it did make me laugh.  I particularly liked a repeated joke  with the Phantom of the Opera singing. The tangents with in California and on the scare quest take away from the humor and the ending drags on and is too maudlin.  But overall it is a pleasant amiable film that is aimed at kids with little to none of the adults only humor I didn’t care for in Minions.   I also laughed a lot more than in Minions from start to finish.

The animation is also nicely done led by the great GEnndy Tartakovsky.  The colors are bright and the characters are surprising and fun.

The voice talent all works but the cast is so large that some of my favorites are woefully underused such as Mel Brooks and Fran Drescher (who I know some hate but I’ve loved her ever since The Nanny).  She has maybe 3 lines in the entire movie. Dana Carvey, Jon Lovitz, Chris Parnell, Nick Offerman are hilarious actors and they are given very little to do.

FILM STILL - HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2 - Frank (Kevin James and Jonathan (Andy Samberg) watch the birthday celebration of Dennis (Ashler Blinkoff, center) with Wanda (Molly Shannon), Dracula (Adam Sandler), Mavis (Selena Gomez), Mike (Nick Offerman) and Linda (Megan Mullally) in Columbia Pictures and Sony Picture Animation's HOTEL TRANSYLVANIA 2.

And yet the running time is 89 minutes!  I told a friend of mine ‘if Bambi can tell its story in 70 minutes Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn’t need 89).  They could definitely cut out the animated dance number at the end- a trend in animation carried over from the 2000s that I really hate

Hotel Transylvania 2 is a movie made for kids without a ton of grown-up appeal but I did laugh a fair amount.  More than I did in Minions and definitely more than Dreamworks’ Home. It has better animation, writing and story than either of those films.

So take that review for what it is worth.  I would wait and get it from the redbox or rent it.  Have some laughs and enjoy a moderately entertaining animated film. Nothing more, nothing less.

Overall Grade- C

Here’s my video review

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Pixar Resurgence?

Nobody could be more thrilled with the recent overwhelmingly positive response to Inside Out than I am.  It is a spectacular film in every way and deserves to be heralded as such.  It’s one of those movies I could watch every week for the rest of my life and never get tired of.  It is emotional, funny, bright, colorful, heartfelt, smart and creative. But there is one thing in these responses that has annoyed me a little bit.  People are way over-doing it on the Pixar  ‘return to form’.  Pixar had a few less good pictures but they were by no means the bottom of the barrel when it comes to animated movies.

Collages1I have to be careful because I don’t want to spoil my reviews for Brave, Monsters University and Cars 2 but these movies are flawed but they are not that bad.  All 3 of them lie strictly in my C average movie category which for Pixar is a failure but seriously let’s have a little bit of perspective here.

crazy nightsYou want to know what is a truly awful animated film?  How about 8  Crazy Nights which has a character named Whitey who is frozen in outhouse feces.  You are going to stand here and tell me that Cars 2 is worse than that?  Give me a break.

fly me to moonHow about Fly Me to the Moon which is 85 minutes of terrible fly puns including a fly exclaiming “lord of the flies!”.  It’s mind numbingly bad.  It’s bad in every way something can be bad- it looks awful, jokes are puns and cringe-inducing, story is stupid, voice performances lame.   You going to claim Brave is worse than that?

hero of color cityHow about last years Hero of Color City?  A movie that took me a week to watch it was so painful.  In a year that had The Nut Job, Hero of Color City swooped in and took the crown as not only the worst animated film of the year but one of the worst MOVIES I’ve ever seen.  The animation is awful, characters are all grating and awful, voice performances suck, it’s a cheap rip off of Toy Story and the humor is all in poor taste.  I’d like to hear anyone try to claim Monsters University is worse than that garbage.

And I haven’t even seen either of the Titanic animated movies, Doogle, or Foodfight, which I have on good authority from many sources, are the actual worst animated films ever made. I’d certainly rather watch any of the bottom 3 Pixars than The Lorax ruin a Dr Seuss’ book.  At least Cars 2 just took aim at itself and not a beloved literary classic.

I could probably think of 50 animated movies that I think are worse than Cars 2 or Brave.  I would certainly way rather watch either of those again than Dinosaur, Brother Bear, Chicken Little, or Home on the Range from the Disney canon.  I’d rather watch both all day than nearly all of the Disneytoons library minus the Tinkerbell films.  Have you seen Hunchback 2? It’s nauseatingly bad.

Anyway, you probably get my point.  Yes, the last 3 Pixar movies have problems but they are not terrible films.  They are still beautiful to look at with a lot of creativity, color and care put into them.  In fact, I own all 3 and enjoy watching them on occasion.  I realize that Pixar set the bar very high for themselves and so perhaps the negativity is natural.  People expect brilliance when you create one masterpiece after another.  So much so that when I do my Pixar ranking it is going to be nearly impossible.  The lowest grade I will probably give a Pixar movie is a C- because they all have elements that I like and are at least an average animated film.

On the other hand, maybe this response is a good thing?  Perhaps it makes sure they know they can’t be lazy and expect people to accept it. It’s a message that I wish Dreamworks would get more of but instead their lazy films like Home get rewarded and their ambitious films struggle (speaking of Dreamworks I can think of about 6 maybe more of their movies I would put below any of the Pixar bottom 3).

Everyone is of course entitled to their own opinion but I’ve just heard this so much this week that I decided to say something.  With that off my chest,  watch Inside Out.  It’s one of the greats.