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With: (voices) Adam Sandler, Andy Samberg, Selena Gomez, Kevin James, Steve Buscemi, David Spade, Keegan-Michael Key, Asher Blinkoff, Fran Drescher, Molly Shannon, Megan Mullally, Nick Offerman, Dana Carvey, Rob Riggle, Mel Brooks, Chris Kattan, Sadie Sandler, Jon Lovitz, Robert Smigel, Nick Swardson, Chris Parnell
Written by: Adam Sandler, Robert Smigel
Directed by: Genndy Tartakovsky
MPAA Rating: PG for some scary images, action and rude humor
Running Time: 89
Date: 09/25/2015

Hotel Transylvania 2 (2015)

2 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

A Bite Plight

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

I did not see the first Hotel Transylvania (2012), but even without the benefit of that experience I believe I was able to follow Hotel Transylvania 2 (as did my nine year-old son). Drac (voiced by Adam Sandler) is the proprietor of the title hotel, a place for monsters that now allows humans. His vampire daughter Mavis (voiced by Selena Gomez) has married a human, Jonathan (voiced by Andy Samberg), and they now have a little baby boy, Dennis. The conflict this time is over whether Dennis will turn out to be a human or a vampire (it takes until about age 5 for a vampire's teeth to come in). Trying other methods, such as a mirror, doesn't seem to occur to our characters. In any case, Mavis has begun to consider moving to Jonathan's hometown to Santa Cruz, and Drac thinks that if he can "encourage" Dennis's vampiric tendencies, then his daughter will stay. Of course, this leads to a "lie" plot, wherein Drac tricks Mavis into going away for a vacation while he and the other monsters take a road trip to demonstrate to Dennis how monsters really live.

Sandler wrote the script with former "Saturday Night Live" writer Robert Smigel, and there are a few chuckles here and there. I especially like "Blobby," who gives a pretty funny deadpan, physical, non-verbal performance with his transparent, gelatinous body. But other jokes, like the invisible man (voiced by David Spade) pretending to have an invisible girlfriend, just fall flat. Once again Sandler has surrounded himself with friends -- there are an astounding number of "SNL" alums here -- and is probably a bit too comfortable to do anything really outrageous. The computer animation follows suit with earlier Sony pictures (Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, etc.) in that it looks pretty good (light and shadow and color and set design are all fine), but the character movements seem designed for economy rather than fluidity; it's all fairly quick and jerky. Nevertheless, Hotel Transylvania 2 is more harmless than anything else, and it will probably inspire a few howls from youngsters.

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