The notion of taking abnormal, surrealistic characters, and placing them in such normal, identifiable situations can make for brilliant cinema. To thrive in mundanity and the tedium of everyday life, yet from the perspective of monsters, is the leading theme to the Hotel Transylvania franchise, and much like Only Lovers Left Alive or What We Do in the Shadows, it works a treat. It may be unsubtly enforced throughout, but it’s a joke with enough about it to sustain – and justify – this entertaining sequel.
Genndy Tartakovsky returns to the helm, while Adam Sander is also back, with the starring role of Dracula – lending his indelible vocals to the role. Having seen his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez) fall in love with a human being named Jonathan (Andy Samberg) in the preceding film, Dracula must now come to terms, and contend with being a grandfather, when the pair give birth to a son. With a half monster, half human child now in the family, the tyrannical, gothic antagonist starts to panic, as he hopes desperately that the young boy will grow his fangs, and be just like him. Of course, however, being half human, it could go either way…
Though supernatural and surrealistic, like any good animated feature, we’re able to place these themes into everyday life, relating to both Mavis and Jonathan, caught in between a culture clash, not feeling as though their families are quite compatible. Though heightened for comedic value, of course, for many people, it’s hard not to feel embarrassed by your family, convinced you’re all wildly unconventional, and that your partner’s are completely normal – despite the fact your other half will be feeling exactly the same way about their family too. But that’s not the only place the humour derives from, with a scattergun approach to one-liners, making for a consistent stream of laughter, and while many of the gags aren’t brazenly presented, keep an eye out for the most subtle jokes, which help to compliment what is otherwise a rather hackneyed narrative structure.
It’s a relief for Sandler too, to be involved in a project that is generally being well-received. With a string of box office failures to his name, the poster boy of the Razzies is on a rather bad run of form – but luckily, and deservedly, this particular piece bucks that trend, as a film that isn’t only easy to enjoy, but it’s making a decent amount of money too. Count that Dracula.