NEW YORK (CNS) — "Hotel Transylvania 2" (Warner Bros.) turns out to be a less than ideal spot for a family vacation. That’s because director Genndy Tartakovsky’s follow-up to his 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) fell for — and wed — 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’s indifferent to the outcome, and will love Dennis no matter what.
Illogically convinced that nurture will somehow prompt — or alter — nature, granddad works to cultivate Dennis’ inner vein-drainer. He’s aided in his efforts by the assortment of iconic but mild-mannered monsters who make up his hostelry-based rat pack, Kevin James’ Frankenstein, David Spade’s Invisible Man and Steve Buscemi’s Werewolf among them.
The humor generated by all this, at least for parents, 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 adult guardians may also wonder whether Sandler’s script — co-written with Robert Smigel — is aiming at something more specific than mere tolerance at its most generic. They’ll catch the inclusion of the phrase "lifestyle choice" in the dialogue, and notice the effeminate manner of an incidental character charged with the rearing of youthful vamps.
Do these hints point to anything beyond Tinseltown’s relentless cries of "Vive la Difference!" and "Be Yourself!"? 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. The Catholic News Service classification is A-II — adults and adolescents. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG — parental guidance suggested. Some material may not be suitable for children.
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Mulderig is on the staff of Catholic News Service.