Sony Pictures Animation have had a bit of a hit and miss run over the last decade. Whilst their Aardman partnered films such as Arthur Christmas and The Pirates! proved to be critical successes, their sole ventures such as Open Season and Surf’s Up have met a more lukewarm reception. As such, 2012’s Hotel Transylvania was something of a pleasant surprise. Centering around Dracula’s (Adam Sandler; another reason I was so surprised at how much I enjoyed the film!) attempts to run a successful hotel for monsters, whilst at the same time hiding from his clientele the fact that his daughter is dating a human, the film turned out to be a twisted treat for the whole family. And of course, with Hollywood being Hollywood, the success of any animated film automatically warrants a sequel.
Hotel Transylvania 2 picks up some time after its predecessor, with monsters now being accepted in the mortal world, with Bigfoot playing for the German soccer league, and the Invisible Man having released a series of workout videos. The hotel meanwhile is now taking in human guests alongside its weird and wacky patrons\ with Drac’s goofy son-in-law Jonny (Andy Samberg) acting as human relations officer, whilst daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) deals with pregnancy pangs. When their half-human, half-vampire son Dennis arrives, it’s up to Drac and his monster buddies to “monsterise” the child before Mavis moves the family to LA in search of normality.
It’s often the case with an animated sequel that some of the sparkle is lost, but Hotel Transylvania 2 manages to keep things fresh. The humour is fast and funny, at times being laugh-out-loud giggle-inducing. The voice cast is exceptional, with the highlight being David Spade’s Invisible Man. His “invisible” girlfriend schtick will raise more than the mild chuckle.
The best thing about HT2, however, is its heart. It’s annoyingly commonplace in American animations to create over-the-top characters without any real depth, made only to try and achieve the greatest comic effect. The humour here, however, lies in the familiarity of our stars. Dracula’s determination to bring up his grandson in the family tradition has some delightful undertones of Jewish rites (made more prominent by Mel Brooks as Great Grandpa Vlad), whilst Steve Buscemi’s werewolf Wayne is the epitome of a long-suffering and bedraggled father of a litter. The meeting ot Mavis’ human in-laws also has some wonderful allusions to dealing with the concept of the “modern family”. Whilst many of these subtleties might be lost on younger audiences, they will certainly help parents through some of the film’s more child-centric moments.
With wonderful animation, a cracking story and enough laughs to keep even the most fidgety bottom firmly rooted, Hotel Transylvania 2 is a treat for the whole family this half term.
Dir: Genndy Tartakovsky
Scr: Robert Smigel, Adam Sandler
Starring: Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Mel Brooks
Prd: Michelle Murdocca
Music: Mark Mothersbaugh
Run Time: 89mins
Hotel Transylvania 2 is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Monday 15th February.