Review: 'Hotel Transylvania 2' fails to live up to original, but is still fun

Building off of the success of its 2012 predecessor, Sony Picture Animation’s “Hotel Transylvania 2” brings back many familiar monster faces for some family-friendly comedy, but did it “re-vamp” the original?

Adam Sandler’s Dracula, Mavis, Johnny and their slew of monster friends pick up right where they left off and move full speed ahead. However, thanks to Dracula’s now changed view of humankind, a change that consumed the whole of the original movie’s plot, the sequel opens announcing that Johnny, a human played by Andy Samberg and Mavis, voiced by Selena Gomez are engaged to be married. Once married, Johnny and Mavis have a son named Dennis and Dracula couldn’t be more excited.

According to an article in The Advocate, “even though Dracula knows the child is, unavoidably, half human, he longs for the sound of flapping little vampire wings in his castle.” The Hollywood Reporter adds that “while he’s opened up to the idea of monsters and humans living together in relative harmony, he’s having trouble accepting the possibility that his newborn, red-headed grandson, Dennis may never grow a pair of fangs.”

This brings about conflict between Dracula and Mavis because, unlike her father, Mavis actually wouldn’t mind if little Dennis remained a human like Johnny. More conflict arises as Mavis and Johnny contemplate leaving the hotel to keep Dennis safe and to live closer to Johnny’s family in the human world. When Mavis and Johnny decide to visit Johnny’s parents in California, Dracula goes into full on “vampa” - vampire grandpa - mode as he looks after Dennis and introduces him to the monster world, in hopes that his fangs will come in.

From that point on, the movie’s overlapping theme of accepting the differences found in today’s modern world kicks in full force. Both the hotel and its inhabitants are far different than they were in the original “Hotel Transylvania.”

The hotel in “Hotel Transylvania 2” might as well be called Hotel Transylvania 2.0 due to the enormous tech upgrade that brings it into the 21st century. Everyone, including Dracula who can’t seem to grasp the concept of technology, has a Sony cellphone and it couldn’t be a more obvious and unnecessary product placement by the company.

The hotel’s inhabitants are just as changed this time around in that many have “lost their scare.” Take the Frankenstein monster, voiced by Kevin James, for example. He can’t get a single scare out of two women joggers, who instead of running away in fear, decide to stop and take a selfie with the “monster,” again stressing the differences between modern day and the days of the monsters’ prime.

Later at Dennis’ fifth birthday party - the day a vampire’s fangs are due to come in by - Dennis’ great-vampa, Vlad, played by Mel Brooks, makes an appearance. Vlad is a very old vampire and set in his ways, not at all as accepting of humans as his son is. His invitation to Dennis’ birthday party is the first that he’s hearing of Dennis’ existence.

I won’t give away the ending, but with characters like Dracula and Vlad putting so much pressure on Dennis to be someone they want him to be, audience members see the consequences of doing so and learn to accept everyone as they come, fangs or no fangs.

Overall, “Hotel Transylvania 2” definitely did not live up to the original, but it was nonetheless an amusing family movie filled with monsterific puns and a powerful underlying theme of acceptance for others and our ever-changing world.


Joey Spagnuolo is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at joseph.spagnuolo@uconn.edu.