This film has shown itself to be an emotional and wonderfully good-humoured sequel, but the themes of love and acceptance are admittedly not as well handled compared to its predecessor.
It seems to be a popular idea to balk at a film featuring Adam Sandler, specifically when he’s nabbed the lead role. And it’s perfectly understandable – in the last few years, he’s come to be more memorable for his bad humour and offensive character stereotypes to the point where the only possible justification for his continued existence in the Hollywood industry is how his critical failures still manage to make so much money. Just look at one of Sandler’s biggest failures as evidence of his commercial success – Jack and Jill somehow made $149 million at the box office despite the fact that many believe it to be one of the worst films of all time. But, surprisingly, the Sony Animations film Hotel Transylvania and this year’s follow up, has (mostly) been an exception to the rule than anything else.
After receiving the establishment of many of the film’s main characters in the first one, Hotel Transylvania 2 doesn’t feel the need to fill us in on who everybody is. As well as a development on the previous film’s themes of acceptance and learning to let go, we receive a reminder that whilst finally being with your one true love makes for a great happy ending, it isn’t the be all and end all of everything.
Drac’s (Adam Sandler) overprotectiveness, as well as his ambivalence towards humans, that he was catapulted into to begin with don’t just magically disappear after his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), falls in love with a human. Even after monsters and humans have disseminated into each other’s cultures, we receive a deeper look into just why he finds it so difficult to unseat himself from views he’s already been holding for centuries.
With this film, it’s the birth of his grandson, Dennis. What causes him such anxiety is the fact is that he’s only a half-vampire, because his father, Johnny (Adam Samberg), is human. Drac’s the type to want to carry on his bloodline and the indication of a lack of fangs only serves to worry him even more. Since Mavis would protest at forcing Dennis into the role of a vampire, he ends up going to ridiculous lengths in attempting to cover up his potentially dangerous actions to break out his grandson’s fangs.
Whilst this film does carry on the emotional tones of its predecessor, it doesn’t always feel satisfying. After finding out about the billing of Mel Brooks, it can be disappointing to discover that he doesn’t actually appear until the last act of the film. Even though his character is mentioned several times, you’d think that because of his significance to the development of both the plot and the characters, that the role he plays wasn’t so overhyped when it came to the marketing.
Besides this, what also muddies the film’s waters is just how accepting Drac is of his grandson. It ended up being ambiguous at best, because whilst we can understand why he’s so anxious to have a vampire grandchild to continue his family’s bloodline, his sentiment that he doesn’t care what he ends up as rings hollow when he’s effectively been pushing Dennis to become something he might not turn out to be.
Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015), directed by Genndy Tartakovsky, is distributed in the UK by Sony Pictures. Certificate U.