“Hotel Transylvania 2” (Warner Bros.) turns out to be a less than ideal spot for a family vacation. That’s because this follow-up to the 2012 animated comedy is both light on laughs and surprisingly violent.
In the original, bloodsucker-turned-hotel-keeper Dracula (voice of Adam Sandler) was forced to overcome his aversion to humans when his daughter Mavis (voice of Selena Gomez) married mortal slacker Johnny (voiced by Andy Samberg). Though the count has since made his peace with this mixed union, the limits of his enlightenment are tested afresh with the arrival of his grandson Dennis (voice of Asher Blinkoff).
Grandpa dotes on the lad, but also insists that he must grow up to be a vampire. (The film’s mythos holds that the boy has only until his fifth birthday to sprout his telltale fangs.) Mavis, by contrast, maintains that she will love Dennis no matter what.
Illogically convinced that nurture will somehow prompt — or alter — nature, granddad works to cultivate Dennis’ inner vampire. He’s aided in his efforts by his pals — an assortment of iconic but mild-mannered monsters (including Frankenstein, Invisible Man and Werewolf).
At least for parents, the film’s humor is hit-or-miss at best. As for the little ones, the climactic mayhem toward which the plot builds, though thoroughly stylized, may well prove too intense for their liking or comfort.
Attentive adults may also wonder whether the film is aiming at something more specific than tolerance at its most generic. They’ll catch the phrase “lifestyle choice” in the dialogue, and notice the effeminate manner of an incidental character charged with the rearing of youthful vamps. The evidence is slight, but the outline of a possible analogy can be glimpsed.
On a purely aesthetic level, while this weak sequel won’t give moviegoers any bedbugs, they should be forewarned that they’re not exactly checking into the Ritz either.
The film contains some potentially frightening dust-ups as well as mildly scatological images and wordplay. (A-II, PG).