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Movie Night – 'Hotel Transylvania 2' welcome family appeal (Oct. 7, 2015 issue)

While the slate of movies released in general in recent weeks have left something to be desired in terms of quality, throughout late Summer theaters have been almost completely devoid of one essential genre: family movies. For that reason alone, “Hotel Transylvania 2” scored a box office victory, earning over $47 million in its opening weekend.
When the original “Hotel Transylvania” ended Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler) agreed to allow his daughter, Mavis (Selena Gomez), to date Johnny (Andy Samberg), a human. The first fifteen minutes of the sequel takes place in a blur. Mavis and Johnny get married, Mavis becomes pregnant, and little Dennis is born. A few days before Dennis’ fifth birthday the plot thickens.
Dennis is half human and half vampire and no one knows which side of him will be dominant. Most vampire’s fangs come in before their fifth birthday. Yet, a few days before his fifth birthday, Dennis still has regular human teeth, causing Dracula great anxiety. He wants (needs) Dennis to be a vampire to continue the Dracula family. Otherwise, the vampire lineage will end with Mavis.
But as Dennis gets closer and closer to his fifth birthday he acts more and more like a human, and less like a vampire. Dracula tries all manner of tricks to bring out the monster inside Dennis, but only ends up angering Mavis to the point that she is considering moving to California so Dennis can grow up with his own kind: humans.
In a desperate bid to keep his family in Transylvania, Dracula convinces Mavis to travel to California with Johnny to see if it would make a good home for Dennis. Dracula agrees to babysit Dennis while they are gone. Along with his posse of Frankenstein (Kevin James), Wayne the werewolf (Steve Buscemi), Griffin the invisible man (David Spade), and Murray the mummy (Keegan-Michael Key), Dracula tries everything at his disposal to make Dennis’ fangs come out before they move to California and leave Dracula alone in Transylvania.
The filmmakers (or maybe the studio), should be applauded for the perfect timing of the release of “Hotel Transylvania 2.” If there were any other family movie choices, the box-office results would have been different. Audiences were thirsting for a good, wholesome movie and flocked to the theater in droves. It didn’t really matter what the movie was about, if it was good for the whole family it was guaranteed to make a boatload of money.
Before I go any further, let me make myself clear. It’s not a bad movie. In fact, it’s pretty good. But, it didn’t add anything new to the formula of the original movie. For the most part, it was the same cast of characters in the same location without any new tricks. “Hotel Transylvania” was clever and cute and funny. The sequel seemed more focused on being cute than innovative or funny.
One new character that spiced up the story a bit was Vlad (Mel Brooks), Dracula’s father. Vlad is feared by everyone. He’s old-school and would not approve of his granddaughter marrying a human. Mel Brooks is great as the voice of Vlad. When Vlad spoke I saw Mel. Vlad/Mel was by far the best addition to the story.
“Hotel Transylvania 2” is the only family movie that has been released in many weeks and, as such, it’s worth it to take the family for some quality time in the dark, munching on popcorn while staring at a giant silver screen.
Grade: B
Rated PG for some scary images, action, and rude humor.